The environmental transmission of the coronavirus has become a concern for all parties. The water-borne environment is not only an important carrier of the virus but also the main victim of secondary-environmental hazard and the resulting ecological damage caused by epidemic control measures. It is uncertain whether the urban drainage network will become a hiding place as well as a transmission channel for the remaining virus, and whether wastewater treatment plants have potential source of risks. Due to the lack of relevant scientific data, immediate attention and testing would be urgently needed.
The Ministry of Science and Technology and the CAE together initiated the project “Environmental Risk Prevention and Control of COVID-19”. Xu Zuxin, CESE academician, Tongji University, led the research project “Controlling Strategies of Potential Coronavirus Transmission Risks of the Urban Wastewater Collection and Treatment System”. With effective organization and coordination by CESE teachers Dong Bin and Jin Wei, and with the strong support of SMEDI and other companies, researchers selected several sampling sites, such as possible risk sources, drainage pipelines, and urban wastewater treatment plants. Then, the team further discussed the key steps: Safety sampling, sample collection, storage conditions, transportation, handover, and testing, etcetera. Detailed testing plans have developed, and recently many companies joined in carrying out the diagnostic analysis. The initiating and implementation of this research project will provide firm evidence for scientifically assessing the potential risks and bringing out countermeasures. Additionally, it is of great significance not only to achieve control of both the epidemic and secondary environmental risks, but also to help urban environmental infrastructure improve its ability to respond to major public health events.
Fig.1&2 - Sampling site of Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center
Professor Dong Bin, second from right
Fig.3&4 - Sampling site of drainage pipelines and urban wastewater treatment plants
Associate Professor Jin Wei, second from right