SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens in municipal wastewater, landfill leachate, and solid waste: A review about virus surveillance, infectivity, and inactivation

Publication Name

Environmental Research


This review discusses the techniques available for detecting and inactivating of pathogens in municipal wastewater, landfill leachate, and solid waste. In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2 is being given special attention, with a thorough examination of all possible transmission pathways linked to the selected waste matrices. Despite the lack of works focused on landfill leachate, a systematic review method, based on cluster analysis, allows to analyze the available papers devoted to sewage sludge and wastewater, allowing to focalize the work on technologies able to detect and treat pathogens. In this work, great attention is also devoted to infectivity and transmission mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, the literature analysis shows that sewage sludge and landfill leachate seem to have a remote chance to act as a virus transmission route (pollution-to-human transmission) due to improper collection and treatment of municipal wastewater and solid waste. However due to the incertitude about virus infectivity, these possibilities cannot be excluded and need further investigation. As a conclusion, this paper shows that additional research is required not only on the coronavirus-specific disinfection, but also the regular surveillance or monitoring of viral loads in sewage sludge, wastewater, and landfill leachate. The disinfection strategies need to be optimized in terms of dosage and potential adverse impacts like antimicrobial resistance, among many other factors. Finally, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogenic microorganisms in sewage sludge, wastewater, and landfill leachate can hamper the possibility to ensure safe water and public health in economically marginalized countries and hinder the realization of the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access



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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



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