EPA Science Advisers Evaluate Agency’s Coronavirus Research Agenda

The group of experts that advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on scientific matters submitted a draft review of the agency’s research agenda for the novel coronavirus. The review was generally complimentary of the agency’s plan.

The advisers did make some suggestions for water-related research. They recommend that the EPA lead or assist with a national program to monitor for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater and for decontaminating buildings.

To analyze the virus in wastewater important questions need to be answered: how quickly the virus degrades (important if there are long intervals between home toilet flushes and sewage sampling), the rate at which the virus is shed in infected persons, who will conduct sampling and how often.

The advisers recommend that EPA researchers work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to assess the prevalence of the virus in wastewater workers. The virus could be aerosolized during the sewage treatment process.

They also suggest monitoring sewage overflows for potential virus transmission.

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