Reducing uncertainty in estimating virus reduction by advanced water treatment processes

Charles P. Gerba, Walter Q. Betancourt, Masaaki Kitajima, Channah M. Rock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Treatment of wastewater for potable reuse requires the reduction of enteric viruses to levels that pose no significant risk to human health. Advanced water treatment trains (e.g., chemical clarification, reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, advanced oxidation) have been developed to provide reductions of viruses to differing levels of regulatory control depending upon the levels of human exposure and associated health risks. Importance in any assessment is information on the concentration and types of viruses in the untreated wastewater, as well as the degree of removal by each treatment process. However, it is critical that the uncertainty associated with virus concentration and removal or inactivation by wastewater treatment be understood to improve these estimates and identifying research needs. We reviewed the critically literature to assess to identify uncertainty in these estimates. Biological diversity within families and genera of viruses (e.g. enteroviruses, rotaviruses, adenoviruses, reoviruses, noroviruses) and specific virus types (e.g. serotypes or genotypes) creates the greatest uncertainty. These aspects affect the methods for detection and quantification of viruses and anticipated removal efficiency by treatment processes. Approaches to reduce uncertainty may include; 1) inclusion of a virus indicator for assessing efficiency of virus concentration and detection by molecular methods for each sample, 2) use of viruses most resistant to individual treatment processes (e.g. adenoviruses for UV light disinfection and reoviruses for chlorination), 3) data on ratio of virion or genome copies to infectivity in untreated wastewater, and 4) assessment of virus removal at field scale treatment systems to verify laboratory and pilot plant data for virus removal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalWater research
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018


  • Recycled water
  • Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Risk assessment
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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