WEF Blog: What We Know About Coronavirus and Water Treatment

Wastewater Life

View CWEA’s round-up of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worker safety information here >


Dr. Rasha Maal-Bared is a Senior Microbiologist at EPCOR and Chair of WEF’s Waterborne Infectious Disease Outbreak Control Subcommittee (WIDOC). She writes about

Our water workforce –operators, maintenance personnel, utility crews, laboratory technicians, collection system workers, and custodial staff – all work in the proximity of human wastewater every day. This is wastewater contains pathogens such as adenovirus, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Hepatitis A virus, and more. The water sector has become extremely diligent when it comes to engineered and administrative controls, personal protective equipment, and good hygiene practices because we want to keep our crews safe, not just during the coronavirus outbreak but every day. Considering our heightened awareness and protective measures when it comes to working with wastewater every day, it makes sense that the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has stated that no additional personal protective equipment is necessary to protect our staff from coronavirus.

Key points from Dr. Maal-Bared’s blog post:

  • Currently there is no evidence that coronavirus survives the disinfection processes for drinking water and wastewater treatment.
  • No coronavirus-specific protections are recommended for employees involved in wastewater management beyond the standard safety practices.
  • The water sector continues following guidance from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health authorities.

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