Covid-19 and Wastewater Treatment Frequently Asked Questions

Covid-19 is an evolving situation and we continue to learn more about the virus each day. To try and create some clarity around this situation we are sharing the top questions we are being asked around water treatment and coronavirus.

To learn more about how Palintest has been helping to combat the spread of coronavirus, click here.

During this time Palintest remains committed to supporting critical water quality testing without compromising our employee safety. For the full statement from our Managing Director, please click here.

Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Is wastewater important for controlling the spread of coronavirus?

Wastewater is known to be a major source of pathogen pollution and should always be carefully managed, particularly where viruses are known to be present. However, the current Covid-19 virus is not thought to be actively spreading through wastewater.

In the case of other coronaviruses such as SARS, studies have indicated that the virus can be present in hospital wastewater or domestic sewage for 2 – 3 days. Combined sewer overflows and bypasses can then release this into the environment, causing the virus to spread, and for this reason many countries are taking extra precautions to treat their wastewater.

The use of chlorination, ultraviolet (UV) irradiation or long-term retention in multi-cell facultative lagoons can achieve 4-log reduction; preventing the virus from spreading. When chlorinating, care must be taken to ensure that chlorine is not used up by demanding substances, such as ammonia. If the chlorine is used up, the resulting chloramines are not as effective against viruses as free chlorine.

Is wastewater from healthcare facilities a greater concern?

Wastewater treatment is required in all hospitals and is a legal requirement in most countries. This is to help prevent chemicals, virus, bacteria and medication from entering the water system.

Wastewater may be a particular focus for temporary hospitals which have been created to combat Covid-19, as the concentration of virus in wastewater is likely to be higher. In this case, disinfection dosage is likely to be increased to ensure that the virus does not spread.

However, all hospitals or facilities that are not connected to a comprehensive wastewater treatment system and instead use a contact chamber or tank, will require additional measures.

Please check your government guidelines for the full information about wastewater treatment for hospitals.

What level of dosage is required in the contact chamber?

Again, this will depend on local regulations and guidelines.
Studies have confirmed levels as low as 0.2 – 0.5 mg/L free chlorine were able to remove the SARS virus. However, in response to Covid-19, China has released an emergency treatment plan for hospital wastewater, instructing that all sewage disposal from hospitals must be strictly disinfected and the level of residual chlorine must be kept higher than 6.5 ppm in the contact chamber.

> 6.5 ppm chlorine when in the contact chamber for more than 90 minutes

> 10 ppm chlorine when in the contact chamber for less than 90 minutes

Verification is performed on site using a portable test kit.

How often does this need to be verified?

Again, this will largely depend on the local regulations but in response to Covid-19 verification in China is performed every 12 hours as a minimum.

Chinese EPA performing testing in Hubei, the centre of the virus

How do we minimise operator risk?

The main consideration is the exposure of the operator to the virus.

The key requirement is for operators to be using full protection to ensure they do not come into contact with the virus. Where possible, they should minimise the handling of samples to minimise their risk.

It is for this reason that the Chinese EPA adopted the Kemio method when verifying wastewater treatment in hospitals. Suitable for use with full hazmat protection and with minimal sample handling, the safety of the operator is not compromised.

Frequently Asked Questions about using Kemio for wastewater disinfection verification?

Kemio Disinfection is being used in many facilities to help combat the spread of Covid-19. Therefore, we have put together a list of top questions that people ask about using Kemio for disinfection verification with Covid-19.

To find out more about how we are supporting efforts to control coronavirus, click here to read our article.

Can Kemio be used with hazmat protection?

Yes, Kemio is a truly simple test method which can be used whilst wearing full protective gear. The touchscreen is suitable with gloves to enable you to select the correct test. For performing the test, you must simply fill up the sample, insert a sensor and close the lid; within 60 seconds your result will appear.

Do I need to dilute my sample before measurement?

Kemio can test free chlorine samples up to 25 mg/L, and therefore no dilution is required.

Our chlorine sensors are available in two ranges depending on your application:

  • Chlorine Standard Range Sensors: 0.02 – 10 mg/L (KEM21CLO / KEM25CLO)
  • Chlorine High Range Sensors: 0.1 – 25 mg/L (KEM21CHR / KEM25CHR)

How do I clean my Kemio to ensure that traces of virus do not remain?

Kemio is IP67 rated and therefore can be thoroughly cleaned. A 75% alcohol spray should be used to clean the full kit and instrument, including the sensor contacts.

Special attention should be given to the sample tray which has been used to hold samples which may contain the virus. We recommend that the sample tray is submerged into 75% alcohol cleaning solution or chlorine solution (1000 mg/L) for 30 minutes.

Chinese EPA performing testing in Sichuan

Are Kemio and Kemio sensors still available to buy during the Covid-19 shutdown?

Yes, Kemio and sensors are still available to buy but we are experiencing slightly longer lead times as we prioritise orders which are supporting efforts to combat Covid-19.

From the outset we have been taking proactive steps to minimise the impact on our business operations and protect our global team. Like most businesses, we are experiencing some day to day disruption, but we are committed to support our customers and aid in the fight against coronavirus.

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