Transport of Viruses through Organic Soils and Sediments

by Phillip R. Scheuerman, Grad. Student; Dept. of Environmental Engrg. Sci., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.,
George E. Gifford, Prof.; Dept. of Immunology and Medical Microbiology, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.,
Allen R. Overman, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof. of Agric. Engrg.; Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.,
Gabriel Bitton, Assoc. Prof. of Environmental Engrg. Sci.; Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Environmental Engineering Division, 1979, Vol. 105, Issue 4, Pg. 629-640

Document Type: Journal Paper


A black organic sediment (l5.5% organic carbon) retained only 60% and 75% of virus suspended in secondary effluent and ground water, respectively. When some of the water-soluble humic materials were leached from the sediment, the sorptive capacity was increased. Further investigation of the interfering capacity of these humic substances revealed that they interfered significantly with the adsorption capacity of poliovirus to a sandy soil. The addition of CaCl2 to humic solutions was shown to restore the sorptive capacity of the soil. Molecular weight fractionation by ultrafiltration showed that the decrease in virus adsorption was due to fractions with a molecular weight below 50,000. An organic muck soil (45.4% organic carbon) was found to retain 92% and 82% of the applied virus suspended in ground water and sewage effluent, respectively. It was concluded that organic soils are not particularly suitable for the application of sewage effluent.

Subject Headings: Effluents | Viruses | Sediment | Carbon compounds | Groundwater | Adsorption | Sewage | Soil water

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