The Effect of The Wastewater Treatment Process, In Particular UV Treatment on Pathogenic Virus Removal

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Resource or Project Abstract

It is recognised that discharged wastewaters can be a significant source of pathogenic viruses (and indeed other microorganisms) in receiving water bodies. While wastewater treatment plants can contribute to virus removal it is widely accepted that specifically designed process are required to fully remove viruses. Insufficient wastewater treatment can result in the persistence of viruses and microorganisms throughout the treatment process leading to environmental pollution, economic impacts (e.g. to shellfish and tourism industries) and an increased risk to human health. Norovirus - commonly known as the 'winter vomiting bug' ? has garnered significant attention recently particularly in the public health sector and shellfish industry. However detection of norovirus is limited to methods that require considerable resources and do not enable assessment of its viability (i.e. whether the virus is infective or not). Furthermore, norovirus is particularly challenging as it can be more resistant to commonly used pathogen removal technologies such as low and medium pressure ultraviolet than other microorganisms.
This study investigated the use of an alternative virus (FRNA bacteriophage) as a potential surrogate/model for norovirus behaviour. FRNA bacteriophages were the used as a model to determine the fate of viruses through a typical activated sludge wastewater treatment plant. The study investigated two methods of tertiary treatment with regards to virus removal from treated effluent; (i) pathogen disinfection via off-the-shelf low pressure ultraviolet systems and novel pulsed ultraviolet treatment and (ii) pathogen removal via membrane filtration. The impact of key wastewater parameters such as organic carbon, metals and suspended solids on the performance of these technologies was also analysed.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Eoghan Clifford
National University of Ireland Galway
Environmental Scientist
Lecturer, College of Engineering and Informatics, Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Informatics National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Telephone: 353 (0) 91 492219
e-mail: eoghan.clifford@nuigalway.ie

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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=3119
Resource KeywordsNorovirus, wastewater, UV treatment, membrane filtration, FRNA bacteriophage
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2011-W-FS-8
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWater Quality
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Public-Open
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 0
Project Start Date Wednesday 1st February 2012 (01-02-2012)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Wednesday 1st February 2012 (01-02-2012)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 1st September 2014 (01-09-2014)
Published on SAFERFriday 11th March 2016 (11-03-2016)
Date of Last EditFriday 11th March 2016 at 16:41:26 (11-03-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Friday 11th March 2016 at 16:34:46 (11-03-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
Samples were collected at various wastewater treatment plants in County Galway; Moycullen, Tuam and Mutton Island. Some on-site research was also carried out at NUI Galway/EPA Water Research Facility, Tuam, Co. Galway. Laboratory analysis was carried out at two facilities; (i) the Environmental Engineering laboratories, NUI, Galway and (ii) Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Galway. Samples were collected at various wastewater treatment plants and transported to NUI, Galway where they were processed using a bench-scale tangential flow filtration system or a bench-scale pulsed UV system. Once processed, the samples were then transported to the Marine Institute in Oranmore for microbiological/molecular analysis. The microbiological analysis involved culturing bacteria for virus growth using broths, agars and incubators. The molecular analysis involved, virus concentration methods from wastewater followed by RNA extraction followed by real-time reverse transcription PCR. Instrumentation used in this process included magnetic filters, centrifuges, biological safety cabinets, and thermal cyclers. Various primers and probes were for virus detection via RT-qPCR. Nutrient analysis was also carried out at the NUI environmental labs, instrumentation used here included a clinical chemistry analyser (Konelab and Biotector).

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
This work is connected to a previous STRIVE research report (Report series No. 109) which investigated norovirus levels in wastewater and shellfish. Limited information is available on the the fate of viruses through wastewater treatment plants and their subsequent removal through the treatment process as legislation does not require testing for viruses in discharged effluent. It was decided to investigate the effectiveness of treatment processes, in particular tertiary pathogen removal systems, in removing/inactivating viruses from secondary treated effluent.
Supplementary Information
The project has been disseminated at various conferences both nationally and internationally; namely the annual ENVIRON conference and at an International Water Association conference. The work has also been presented at a Faculty of Public Health conference. One journal publication has been accepted and is available online and a second journal publication is currently under review.



The majority of the datasets measured virus starting concentrations and removal rates when treated with the virus disinfection systems. Both microbiological (overlay plaque assayand molecular methods (RT-qPCR) were used to detect and quantify the viruses in question. A tangential flow filtration system was trialled as a barrier method for virus removal. In addition, a pulsed UV and low pressure UV were investigated as an inactivation system. The datasets also include wastewater characteristics such as organic carbon concentrations, nutrient concentrations etc. Standard wastewater measurement methods were used to measure these paramaters.



Samples were collected at various wastewater treatment plants in County Galway; Moycullen, Tuam and Mutton Island. Some on-site research was also carried out at NUI Galway/EPA Water Research Facility, Tuam, Co. Galway.


Laboratory analysis was carried out at two facilities; (i) the Environmental Engineering laboratories, NUI, Galway and (ii) Marine Institute, Rinville, Oranmore, Galway. Samples were collected at various wastewater treatment plants and transported to NUI, Galway where they were processed using a bench-scale tangential flow filtration system or a bench-scale pulsed UV system. Once processed, the samples were then transported to the Marine Institute in Oranmore for microbiological/molecular analysis. The microbiological analysis involved culturing bacteria for virus growth using broths, agars and incubators. The molecular analysis involved, virus concentration methods from wastewater followed by RNA extraction followed by real-time reverse transcription PCR. Instrumentation used in this process included magnetic filters, centrifuges, biological safety cabinets, and thermal cyclers. Various primers and probes were for virus detection via RT-qPCR. Nutrient analysis was also carried out at the NUI environmental labs, instrumentation used here included a clinical chemistry analyser (Konelab and Biotector).





Acknowledgments: The authors would like to acknowledge Prof. Neil Rowan and Dr. Mary Garvey from Athlone Institute of Technology for their contribution to this report. Publications: Fitzhenry, K., Barrett, M., O?Flaherty, V., Dore, W. J., Keaveney, S., Cormican, M., & Clifford, E. (2014). Detection and removal of pathogenic norovirus employing tertiary treatment in wastewater and water treatment facilities. Water Practice & Technology, 9(3), 370 ? 376. doi:10.2166/wpt.2014.039.

Fitzhenry, K., Barrett, M., O?Flaherty, V., Dore, W., Cormican, M., Clifford, E. (2014). Detection and removal of pathogenic norovirus employing tertiary treatment in wastewater and water treatment facilities. Oral presentation. 6th International Water Association (IWA) Young Water Professionals Conference ?East Meets West?, 28-30th May, 2014, Istanbul, Turkey.

Barrett, M., Fitzhenry, K., O'Flaherty, V., Dore, W., Cormican, M., Collins, G., Clifford, E. (2012). Employing UV and filtration systems in the treatment and removal of the pathogenic noroviruses from sewage waste. Poster presentation. 354B, ISME14 ? The power of the small, 19-24thof August, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Fitzhenry, K., Barrett, M., O?Flaherty, V., Dore, W., Cormican, M., Clifford, E. (2014). Fate of Norovirus and FRNA bacteriophages in wastewater treatment facilities. Poster presentation. 6th International Water Association (IWA) Young Water Professionals Conference ?East Meets West?, 28-30th May, 2014, Istanbul, Turkey.
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  http://pathogenremoval.nuigalway.ie/ (Opens in a new window)

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