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Title: Modeling SARS-CoV-2 RNA degradation in small and large sewersheds
Wastewater-based epidemiology has played a significant role in monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, yet little is known about degradation of SARS-CoV-2 in sewer networks. Here, we used advanced sewershed modeling software to simulate SARS-CoV-2 RNA degradation in sewersheds across Houston, TX under various temperatures and decay rates. Moreover, a novel metric, population times travel time ( PT ), was proposed to identify localities with a greater likelihood of undetected COVID-19 outbreaks and to aid in the placement of upstream samplers. Findings suggest that travel time has a greater influence on RNA degradation across the sewershed as compared to temperature. SARS-CoV-2 RNA degradation at median travel times was approximately two times greater in 20 °C wastewater between the small sewershed, Chocolate Bayou, and the larger sewershed, 69th Street. Lastly, placement of upstream samplers according to the PT metric can provide a more representative snapshot of disease incidence in large sewersheds. This study helps to elucidate discrepancies between SARS-CoV-2 viral load in wastewater and clinical incidence of COVID-19. Incorporating travel time and SARS-CoV-2 RNA decay can improve wastewater surveillance efforts.
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Award ID(s):
1832065 1940163
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
290 to 300
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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