The vast majority of research on human viruses is focused on viruses in the human body; the literature is relatively void of data on virus persistence in the environment. This project aims to fill that void by carrying out novel research on virus persistence in water. The work will focus on two important groups of viruses: one of the most important etiologies of gastrointestinal illness in the world –human norovirus (HNoV)- and the subfamily of viruses responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic – human coronaviruses (HCoVs). The researchers will study the persistence of infectious HNoV in water, a subject which has not been studied previously owing to methodological limitations on cultivation of the virus. They will also study the persistence of CoVs including SARS-CoV-2 in water and wastewater as well as their potential for disinfection by free chlorine. There is sparse data to date in the literature on this topic - not a single study has examined free chlorine disinfection of any CoV. The results from this work will have immediate applications to inform de facto wastewater reuse and recreational water quality standards.
Ali Boehm (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Catherine Blish (Microbiology and Immunology)
Harry Greenberg (Microbiology and Immunology)
William Mitch (Civil and Enviornmental Engineering)