Emerging water treatment technologies using ferrous and zero-valent iron show promising virus mitigation by both inactivation and adsorption. In this study, iron electrocoagulation was investigated for virus mitigation in drinking water via bench-scale batch experiments. Relative contributions of physical removal and inactivation, as determined by recovery via pH 9.5 beef broth elution, were investigated for three mammalian viruses (adenovirus, echovirus, and feline calicivirus) and four bacteriophage surrogates (fr, MS2, P22, and ΦX174). Though no one bacteriophage exactly represented mitigation of the mammalian viruses in all water matrices, bacteriophage ΦX174 was the only surrogate that showed overall removal comparable to that of the mammalian viruses. Bacteriophages fr, MS2, and P22 were all more susceptible to inactivation than the three mammalian viruses, raising concerns about the suitability of these common surrogates as indicators of virus mitigation. To determine why some bacteriophages were particularly susceptible to inactivation, mechanisms of bacteriophage mitigation due to electrocoagulation were investigated. Physical removal was primarily due to inclusion in flocs, while inactivation was primarily due to ferrous iron oxidation. Greater electrostatic attraction, virus aggregation, and capsid durability were proposed as reasons for virus susceptibility to ferrous-based inactivation. Results suggest that overall treatment claims based on bacteriophage mitigation for any iron-based technology should be critically considered due to higher susceptibility of bacteriophages to inactivation via ferrous oxidation.
Heffron, Joe; McDermid, Brad; Maher, Emily; McNamara, Patrick J.; and Mayer, Brooke K., "Mechanisms of Virus Mitigation and Suitability of Bacteriophages as Surrogates in Drinking Water Treatment by Iron Electrocoagulation" (2019). Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty Research and Publications. 241.
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