Strategies for safe management of hospital wastewater during the COVID-19 pandemic

A. Balakrishnan, M. M. Jacob, P. Senthil Kumar, A. Kapoor, M. Ponnuchamy, P. Sivaraman, M. Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Management of hospital wastewater is a challenging task, particularly during the situations like coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The hospital effluent streams are likely to contain many known and unknown contaminants including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) along with a variety of pollutants arising from pharmaceuticals, life-style chemicals, drugs, radioactive species, and human excreta from the patients. The effluents are a mixed bag of contaminants with some of them capable of infecting through contact. Hence, it is essential to identify appropriate treatment strategies for hospital waste streams. In this work, various pollutants emerging in the context of COVID-19 are examined. A methodical review is conducted on the occurrence and disinfection methods of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. An emphasis is given to the necessity of addressing the challenges of handling hospital effluents dynamically involved during the pandemic scenario to ensure human and environmental safety. A comparative evaluation of disinfection strategies makes it evident that the non-contact methods like ultraviolet irradiation, hydrogen peroxide vapor, and preventive approaches such as the usage of antimicrobial surface coating offer promise in reducing the chance of disease transmission. These methods are also highly efficient in comparison with other strategies. Chemical disinfection strategies such as chlorination may lead to further disinfection byproducts, complicating the treatment processes. An overall analysis of various disinfection methods is presented here, including developing methods such as membrane technologies, highlighting the merits and demerits of each of these processes. Finally, the wastewater surveillance adopted during the COVID-19 outbreak is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13941-13956
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Disinfection
  • Hospital effluent
  • Wastewater
  • Wastewater surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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