Sunlight inactivation is an important mode of disinfection for viruses in surface waters. In constructed wetlands, for example, open-water cells can be used to promote sunlight disinfection and remove pathogenic viruses from wastewater. To aid in the design of these systems, we developed predictive models of virus attenuation that account for endogenous and exogenous sunlight-mediated inactivation mechanisms. Inactivation rate models were developed for two viruses, MS2 and poliovirus type 3; laboratory- and field-scale experiments were conducted to evaluate the models’ ability to estimate inactivation rates in a pilot-scale, open-water, unit-process wetland cell. Endogenous inactivation rates were modeled using either photoaction spectra or total, incident UVB irradiance. Exogenous inactivation rates were modeled on the basis of virus susceptibilities to singlet oxygen. Results from both laboratory- and field-scale experiments showed good agreement between measured and modeled inactivation rates. The modeling approach presented here can be applied to any sunlit surface water and utilizes easily measured inputs such as depth, solar irradiance, water matrix absorbance, singlet oxygen concentration, and the virus-specific apparent second-order rate constant with singlet oxygen (k2). Interestingly, the MS2 k2 in the open-water wetland was found to be significantly larger than k2 observed in other waters in previous studies. Examples of how the model can be used to design and optimize natural treatment systems for virus inactivation are provided.
Silverman, A. I., Nguyen, M. T., Schilling, I. E., Wenk, J., & Nelson, K. L. (2015). Sunlight Inactivation of Viruses in Open-Water Unit Process Treatment Wetlands: Modeling Endogenous and Exogenous Inactivation Rates. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(5), 2757-2766. https://doi.org/10.1021/es5049754