Do biosolids (treated sewage sludge) contain SARS-CoV-2 virus and can they be land applied safely?
Existing requirements and guidance help ensure that biosolids are processed, handled, and land-applied in a manner that minimizes the risk of exposure to pathogens, including viruses. We have no evidence that biosolids contain infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus when requirements under 40 CFR part 503 are met for Class A biosolids. Generally, pathogens may exist when requirements are met under 40 CFR part 503 for Class B biosolids, which is why EPA’s site restrictions that allow time for pathogen degradation should be followed for harvesting crops and turf, for grazing of animals, and public contact. All requirements under 40 CFR Part 503 should continue to be met. Additionally, per CDC’s Guidance for Controlling Potential Risks to Workers Exposed to Class B Biosolids, employers should prevent work-related illness by providing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and supporting other health and safety practices for persons hauling and land applying biosolids. While no additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for the land application of biosolids, consider checking for advisories from your local health department.
COVID-19 & Drinking Water Q&A
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
EPA Expands Research on COVID-19 in the Environment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to make COVID-19 issues a top priority. The Agency has been actively supporting response efforts across the country to protect public health. As part of these efforts, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is asking for a rapid review with the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to provide feedback on research needs identified by EPA’s researchers. This research will enhance and build on the Agency’s capabilities to address the environmental and human health impacts from the virus that causes COVID-19. Read more here.
Essential Critical Infrastructure
Find out more here.
What can science tell us about composting and the virus that causes COVID-19?
US Composting Council
What do composters need to know to control the disease and prevent it from spreading? In this webinar our friends at the US Composting Council will review safe handling procedures and meeting pathogen reduction standards (PFRP) at compost sites. Learn more.
Information and Resources on COVID-19 and wastewater processes and biosolids
Virginia Biosolids Council
As COVID-19’s impact continues to escalate and anxiety rises, it can be difficult to know where to look for accurate information, specifically related to the functionality of existing municipal utility processes to protect public health and safety. Municipal utility treatment processes are rigorous, the wastewater is subjected to physical, biological, and chemical processes during treatment before clean water is returned to local waters or recycled. Read more here.
Do not flush paper towels, wipes, or facial tissues—they clog your pipes and our pumps!
Do not flush paper towels, wipes or facial tissues—they clog your pipes and our pumps! Read more here.
CA Says Recycled Water and Treated Wastewater Is Safe from COVID-19
California Water Boards
Wastewater treatment plants treat municipal wastewater to standards that protect the beneficial uses of the waters into which the treated wastewater is discharged. Some plants treat wastewater to more stringent standards so that the highly treated water can be reused for landscape irrigation, dust control at construction sites, and groundwater recharge for future use as a drinking water source. The level of treatment required depends on the beneficial uses of the receiving waters and ultimate use of the treated wastewater. Read more here.
IN THE MEDIA
Out of toilet paper during the coronavirus pandemic? Don’t flush anything else you might use.
The Daily Press
America is experiencing a shortage of toilet paper. People began hoarding it shortly after the first cases of coronavirus appeared in the United States, and now most stores are sold out or running low. But lack of toilet paper can create another problem: Massive clogs caused by people flushing things they shouldn’t. Treatment plants are constantly dealing with this issue, said Lacie Wever, a spokeswoman for Hampton Roads Sanitation District. Read more here.