Effects of COVID-19 on Water and Wastewater Resources and its Environmental Consequences (Case Study of Mashhad)

Document Type : Case study


1 Prof., Dept. of Geology, Groundwater and Geothermal Research Center (GRC), Water and Environment Research Institute, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 MSc. of Hydrogeology, Dept. of Geology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


The prevalence of COVID-19 causes many environmental problems, including increased medical waste and household waste, increased detergent consumption, reduced waste recycling and pollution of surface and groundwater resources through the entry of contaminated wastewater and leachate transfer, as well as increasing demand and water consumption in the household sector. COVID-19 virus RNA is found in feces, urine and sewage in different parts of the world, and in fact, hospital sewage, especially infectious disease units, contains the pandemic COVID-19 virus. Therefore, the study of this virus in wastewater is necessary to protect the quality of water resources. This study is based on a review of more than 200 published scientific literatures (articles, books, reports, valid scientific sites, etc.) in relation to the coronavirus. For this purpose, keywords such as "coronavirus contamination of water and wastewater resources", "environmental effects of coronavirus", "effects of physico-chemical indicators of wastewater on coronavirus survival" and "number of infected and deaths due to Coronavirus" have been used and downloaded through electronic tools from Springer, PubMed, ISI Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar databases. In addition, data on the amount of water consumption in different parts (residential and non-residential) of Mashhad city, and the concentration of physicochemical parameters (such as temperature (T), pH, suspended solids, total solids (Ammonia, etc.) of wastewater, related to Khin Arab and Parkandabad treatment plants in Mashhad, has been obtained from Mashhad water and sewerage company. The required diagrams were drawn in Excel software, and the environmental impact and the contamination of water resources with COVID-19 and variations in physico-chemical parameters of wastewater affecting the survival of COVID-19 in wastewater were examined and analyzed. The global prevalence of Coronavirus has many negative impacts on the environment and on water and wastewater resources and caused increased water consumption (in residential sector) and wastewater production. By January 2022, worldwide, Iran and Khorasan Razavi province levels, more than 312 million, 6 million and 75 thousand people, respectively, were suffering from coronavirus outbreak, and more than 5.5 million, 133 thousand and 11 thousand people died. In general, the effect of concentration of wastewater’s physico-chemical indicators on the concentration and survival of COVID-19 has been proven in the world (especially in the South African coazolonatal treatment plant). The results of this study show that the parameters of each wastewater and survival and concentration of COVID-19 depends on the characteristics of the wastewater source, which should be given special attention in research on the epidemiology of wastewater. The variations in the concentration of physico-chemical indicators of Mashhad treatment plants’ (Parkandabad and Khin Arab) wastewater shows increase in concentration of some wastewater indicators. This can be due to the high input of organic and chemical substances and of solids (suspended, soluble and volatile) such as: detergents and disinfectants and pharmaceuticals, hospital and medical waste were attributed to wastewater after the outbreak of COVID-19. The outbreak of Coronavirus in the world has not only caused the death and infection of many people, but it has also caused increasing and decreasing in water consumption in the residential and non-residential sectors. The concentrations of some wastewater’s physico-chemical indicators (such as pH, TS and ammonia) effects on the concentration, survival and shelf life of Coronavirus in wastewater. Therefore, by determining the concentrations of these indicators in wastewater at different times and monitoring its variations, it is possible to determine the survival of COVID-19 virus in wastewater, the rate of infection and the contaminated areas from the virus, and also to be able to control COVID-19 and to manage the pollution and infection.


Abram, W. A. S. L. (n.d). Ammonia in drinking water. https://www.abram-lab.ir. (In Persian)
Afsharnsab, M., Akbari, S., Sharif, M., Yousef, F. & Hassan, D. 2006. The effect of different salinity and pH concentrations on the survival of Penaeus monodon baculovirus (MBV) in green tiger shrimp (Penaeus semisulcatus). Iranian Journal of Fisheries, 6(1), 1-18. (In Persian)
Amoah, I. D., Abunama, T., Awolusi, O. O., Pillay, L., Pillay, K., Kumari, Sh., et al. 2021. Effect of selected wastewater characteristics on estimation of SARS-CoV-2 viral load in wastewater. Environmental Research, 203, 111877.
Balai Khezrloo, M., Al-Ahmadi, U. & Gheshngpour Piousti, F. 2011. Investigation of the destructive effects of detergents on the environment. The 2nd Conference on Science and Technology of Surfactants and Detergent Industries, Tehran, Iran. (In Persian)
Bosch, A. 1998. Human enteric viruses in the water environment: a minireview. International Microbiology, 1(3), 191-196.
Brown, D., Butler, D., Orman, N. & Davies, J. 1996. Gross solids transport in small diameter sewers. Water Science and Technology, 33(9), 25-30.
Carducci, A. Federigi, I., Liu, D., Thompson, J. R. & Verani, M. 2020. Making waves: coronavirus detection, presence and persistence in the water environment: state of the art and knowledge needs for public health. Water Research, 179, 115907.
Collivignarelli, M. C., Collivignarelli, C., Carnevale Miino, M., Abbà, A., Pedrazzani, R. & Bertanza, G. 2020. SARS-CoV-2 in sewer systems and connected facilities. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 143, 196-203.
Cortes, A. A. & Zuñiga, J. M. 2020. The use of copper to help prevent transmission of SARS-coronavirus and influenza viruses. A general review. Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease, 98(4), 115176.
Dong, L., Zhou, J., Niu, C., Wang, Q., Pan, Y., Sheng, S., Fang, X. 2021. Highly accurate and sensitive diagnostic detection of SARS-CoV-2 by digital PCR. Talanta, 224, 121726. doi:10.1016/j.talanta.2020.121726.
Forés, E., Bofill-Mas, S., Itarte, M., Martínez-Puchol, S., Hundesa, A., Calvo, M., et al. 2021. Evaluation of two rapid ultrafiltration-based methods for SARS-CoV-2 concentration from wastewater. Science of the Total Environment, 768, 144786.
Ghanizadeh, Q. & Islami, A. 2001. The effect of temperature and pH on the deposition of activated sludge process flakes. Journal of Advances in Medical and Biomedical Research, 9(37), 52-56. (In Persian)
Gholipour, S., Rabbani, D. & Nikaeen, M. 2021. Presence of coronavirus, enterovirus and adenovirus in municipal wastewater as indicators of the prevalence of associated viral infections in the community. Journal of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, 31(197), 44-54. (In Persian)
Gundy, P. M., Gerba, C. P. & Pepper, I. L. 2008. Survival of coronaviruses in water and wastewater. Food and Environmental Virology, 1(1), 10-14.
Hart, O. E. & Halden, R. U. 2020. Computational analysis of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 surveillance by wastewater-based epidemiology locally and globally: feasibility, economy, opportunities and challenges. Science of the Total Environment, 730, 138875.
Holshue, M. L., DeBolt, C., Lindquist, S., Lofy, K. H., Wiesman, J., Bruce, H., et al. 2020. First case of 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(10), 929-936.
Islam, S., Rahman, S. H., Hassan, M. & Azam, G. 2016. Municipal solid waste management using GIS application in Mirpur area of Dhaka city, Bangladesh. Pollution, 2(2), 141-151.
Kalbusch, A., Henning, E., Brikalski, M. P., Luca, F. V & .Konrath, A. C. 2020. Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) spread-prevention actions on urban water consumption. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 163, 105098.
Kataki, S., Chatterjee, S., Vairale, M. G., Sharma, S. & Dwivedi, S. K. 2020. Concerns and strategies for wastewater treatment during COVID-19 pandemic to stop plausible transmission. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 164, 105156.
Kitajima, M., Ahmed, W., Bibby, K., Carducci, A., Gerba, C. P., Hamilton, K. A., et al. 2020. SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: state of the knowledge and research needs. Science of The Total Environment, 739, 139076.
Kochakzadeh, A. 2018. Environmental Impact Assessment of North Tabarsi Wastewater Treatment Plants, the Second Module is Khin Arab and the Third Module is Olang. Mashhad. Iran. https://abfamshhad.ir
La Rosa, G., Iaconelli, M., Mancini, P., Bonanno Ferraro, G., Veneri, C., Bonadonna, L., et al. 2020. First detection of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewaters in Italy. Science of the Total Environment, 736, 139652.
Liu, Y., Gayle, A. A., Wilder-Smith, A & .Rocklöv, J. 2020. The reproductive number of COVID-19 is higher compared to SARS coronavirus. Journal of Travel Medicine, 27(2), 1-4.
Lüdtke, D. U., Luetkemeier, R., Schneemann, M. & Liehr, S. 2021. Increase in daily household water demand during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Germany. Water, 13(3), 260.
Madsen, T., Boyd, H. B., Nylén, D., Pedersen, A. R., Petersen, G. I. & Simonsen, F. 2001. Environmental and health assessment of substances in household detergents and cosmetic detergent products. Environmental Project, 615(2001), 221.
Mao, K., Zhang, H. & Yang, Z. 2020. Can a paper-based device trace COVID-19 sources with wastewater-based epidemiology? Environmental Science and Technology, 54(7), 3733-3735.
Mehravaran, B., Ansary, H., Beheshti, A. & Esmaili, K. 2015. Investigate the feasibility of using wastewater purication in irrigation due to its environmental impacts (the effluent treatment plants parkandabad Mashhad). Iranian Journal of Irrigation and Drainage, 9(3), 440-447.
Mirzakhani, A. 2020. Environmental effects of detergents. http://www.donya-e-eqtesad.com/fa/tiny/news-3590217.
Mohammadzadeh, H. 2013. Comparing MSW landfill sites of Ottawa (capital of Canada) and Mashhad (the 2ed biggest city of Iran). In the 23nd Goldschmidt™ Conference. Florence, Italy.
Naddeo, V. & Liu, H. 2020. Correction: editorial perspectives: 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2): what is its fate in urban water cycle and how can the water research community respond? Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 6(7), 1939-1939.
Nasseri, S., Yavarian, J., Baghani, A. N., Azad, T. M., Nejati, A., Nabizadeh, R., et al. 2021. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 in raw and treated wastewater in 3 cities of Iran: Tehran, Qom and Anzali during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering, 19(1), 573-584.
Paul, D., Praveen, K. & Hall, S. G. 2021. A review of the impact of environmental factors on the fate and transport of coronaviruses in aqueous environments. NPJ Clean Water, 4(7), 1-13.
Rume, T. & Islam, S. M. D. U. 2020. Environmental effects of COVID-19 pandemic and potential strategies of sustainability. Heliyon, 6(9), e04965.
Saberifar, R. 2020. Investigating the geographical distribution of patients with Covid-19 in Mashhad based on the recapture method and application of geographic information systems. Journal of Health Based Research, 6(1), 25-38. (In Persian)
Singh, N., Tang, Y. & Ogunseitan, O. A. 2020. Environmentally sustainable management of used personal protective equipment. Environmental Science and Technology, 54(14), 8500-8502.
Soltani Gardfaramarzi, T. & Behniafar, A. 2012. Problems caused by improper location of landfills in Mashhad and its environmental consequences. 5th National Conference on Environmental Engineering. Mashhad, Iran. (In Persian)
Somani, M., Srivastava, A. N., Gummadivalli, S. K. & Sharma, A. 2020. Indirect implications of COVID-19 towards sustainable environment: an investigation in Indian context. Bioresource Technology Reports, 11, 100491.
Statistical Center of Iran. 2019. Retrieved from www.amar.org.ir.
Van Doremalen, N., Bushmaker, T., Morris, D. H., Holbrook, M. G., Gamble, A., Williamson, B. N., et al. 2020. Aerosol and surface stability of HCoV-19 (SARS-CoV-2) compared to SARS-CoV-1. New England Journal of Medicine, 382, 1564-1567.
 Varbanov, M., Bertrand, I., Philippot, S., Retourney, C., Gardette, M., Hartard, C., et al. 2021. Somatic coliphages are conservative indicators of SARS-CoV-2 inactivation during heat and alkaline pH treatments. Science of the Total Environment, 797, 149112.
Vellingiri, B., Jayaramayya, K., Iyer, M., Narayanasamy, A., Govindasamy, V., Giridharan, B., et al. 2020. COVID-19: a promising cure for the global panic. Science of the Total Environment, 725, 138277.
Venugopal, A., Ganesan, H., Sudalaimuthu Raja, S. S., Govindasamy, V., Arunachalam, M., Narayanasamy, A., et al. 2020. Novel wastewater surveillance strategy for early detection of coronavirus disease 2019 hotspots. Current Opinion in Environmental Science and Health, 17, 8-13.
Verma, A., Wei, X. & Kusiak, A. 2013. Predicting the total suspended solids in wastewater: a data-mining approach. Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, 26, 1366-1372.
Wang, L., Wang, Y., Ye, D. & Liu, Q. 2020. Review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) based on current evidence. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 55(6), 105948.
Wang, X. W., Li, J., Guo, T., Zhen, B., Kong, Q., Yi, B., et al. 2005. Concentration and detection of SARS coronavirus in sewage from Xiao Tang Shan Hospital and the 309th Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Water Science and Technology, 52(8), 213-221.
WHO. 2020. Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Waste Management for the COVID-19 Virus. Unicef pub., New York, USA.
WHO. 2021. WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard with Vaccination Data. http://Covid-19.who.int.
Wurtzer, S. B., Maréchal, V., Mouchel, J. M. & Moulin, L. 2020. Time course quantitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 in Paris wastewaters correlates with COVID-19 confirmed cases. MedRxiv, doi.org/10.1101/ 2020.04.12.20062679.
Xu, Y., Li, X., Zhu, B., Liang, H., Fang, C., Gong, Y., et al. 2020. Characteristics of pediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection and potential evidence for persistent fecal viral shedding. Nature Medicine, 26(4), 502-505.