Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Persistence of Enveloped Viruses in Environmental Waters and Wastewater in the Absence of Disinfectants

Andrea I. Silverman, Alexandria B. Boehm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Enveloped viruses are characterized by a lipid-containing envelope that encapsulates the virion, and they have been the cause of major outbreaks and pandemics. Some enveloped viruses are excreted in feces and other bodily fluids of infected people and animals, raising the question of their fate in the aquatic environment. Consequently, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the decay rate constants (k) of enveloped viruses from 12 families (i.e.,Coronaviridae,Cystoviridae(specifically Phi6),Filoviridae,Hepadnaviridae,Herpesviridae,Orthomyxoviridae,Paramyxoviridae,Pneumoviridae,Poxviridae,Retroviridae,Rhabdoviridae,Togaviridae) in environmental waters and wastewater to evaluate their decay kinetics and identify the environmental and virus characteristics that influencek. A total of 812kthat met inclusion criteria were identified in the literature, with the number ofkfor each family ranging from 0 to 560, and the virus family averaged values ofkranging from 0.11 d-1and 1.85 d-1. Virus type (i.e., genus, species, subspecies, or subtype), method of virus enumeration (i.e., culture-based or (RT-)QPCR), and experimental water matrix type, temperature and sterility were found to have significant effects onk. Additionally, enveloped viruses were found to have statistically significantly greaterkthan nonenveloped viruses. Multiple linear regression models that allow prediction of log10kas a function of virus type, enumeration method, water temperature, and water type are provided for six virus families that had sufficient data available for model fitting (i.e.,Coronaviridae, Phi6,Herpesviridae,Orthomyxoviridae,Rhabdoviridae,Togaviridae). Compiled log10kand multiple regression models can be used to inform management of human and animal waste, operation of water and wastewater facilities, and exposure risks to treatment plant workers and communities living in regions that lack treatment facilities. Given limited data available for some enveloped virus families with a potential water-related transmission route, there is need for additional data collection to aid academic researchers, public health agencies, and water and wastewater professionals involved in outbreak response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14480-14493
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2 2021


  • decay
  • disinfection
  • enveloped viruses
  • inactivation
  • rate constant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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