A mass balance approach to the fate of viruses in a municipal wastewater treatment plant during summer and winter seasons

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In contrast to previous discussion on general virus removal efficiency and identifying surrogates for human pathogenic viruses, this study focuses on virus retention within each step of a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Additionally, the influence of weather conditions on virus removal was addressed. To account for the virus retention, this study describes a mass balance of somatic coliphages (bacterial viruses) in a municipal WWTP, performed in the winter and summer seasons of 2011. In the winter season, the concentration of coliphages entering the WWTP was about 1 log lower than in summer. The mass balance in winter revealed a virus inactivation of 85.12 ± 13.97%. During the summer season, virus inactivation was significantly higher (95.25 ± 3.69%, p-value <0.05), most likely due to additional virus removal in the secondary clarifier by insolation. Thus, a total removal of coliphages of about 2.78 log units was obtained in summer compared to 1.95 log units in winter. Rainfall events did not statistically correlate with the concentrations of coliphages entering the WWTP in summer.

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