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Differential removal of human pathogenic viruses from sewage by conventional and ozone treatments

Journal article
Authors Hao Wang
Carolin Rutgersson
Per Sikora
Magnus Lindh
Tomas Brodin
Berndt Björlenius
D. G. Joakim Larsson
Helene Norder
Published in International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Volume 221
Issue 3
Pages 479-488
ISSN 1438-4639
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Pathology
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Centre for antibiotic resistance research, CARe
Pages 479-488
Language en
Keywords Adenovirus, Effluent, Next generation sequencing, Parvovirus, Waste water
Subject categories Public health science, Virology


Sewage contains a mixed ecosystem of diverse sets of microorganisms, including human pathogenic viruses. Little is known about how conventional as well as advanced treatments of sewage, such as ozonation, reduce the environmental spread of viruses. Analyses for viruses were therefore conducted for three weeks in influent, after conventional treatment, after additional ozonation, and after passing an open dam system at a full-scale treatment plant in Knivsta, Sweden. Viruses were concentrated by adsorption to a positively charged filter, from which they were eluted and pelleted by ultracentrifugation, with a recovery of about 10%. Ion Torrent sequencing was used to analyze influent, leading to the identification of at least 327 viral species, most of which belonged to 25 families with some having unclear classification. Real-time PCR was used to test for 21 human-related viruses in inlet, conventionally treated, and ozone-treated sewage and outlet waters. The viruses identified in influent and further analyzed were adenovirus, norovirus, sapovirus, parechovirus, hepatitis E virus, astrovirus, pecovirus, picobirnavirus, parvovirus, and gokushovirus. Conventional treatment reduced viral concentrations by one to four log10, with the exception of adenovirus and parvovirus, for which the removal was less efficient. Ozone treatment led to a further reduction by one to two log10, but less for adenovirus. This study showed that the amount of all viruses was reduced by conventional sewage treatment. Further ozonation reduced the amounts of several viruses to undetectable levels, indicating that this is a promising technique for reducing the transmission of many pathogenic human viruses.

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