Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

SARS-CoV-2 and Environmental Samples: A Methodological Approach to Have Consistent and Comparable Results

Version 1 : Received: 14 October 2020 / Approved: 16 October 2020 / Online: 16 October 2020 (08:26:10 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Environmental Research 2121, 195, 110847
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.110847


Since the beginning of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, large attention has been focused on the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 diffusion and environment. As a matter of fact, clear evidence of the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via respiratory aerosol would be of primary importance; at the same time, checking the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can be extremely useful to control the diffusion of the disease. Up to now, many studies report SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in indoor/outdoor air samples or water/wastewater samples that can differ by order of magnitude. Unfortunately, complete information about the scientific approach of many studies is still missing, relating to: samplers and sampling materials performances, recovery tests, measurement uncertainty, robustness, detection and quantification limits, infectivity of captured virus, virus degradation during sampling, influence of sample pre-treatments (included freezing) on results, effects of inhibitors, sample alterations due to manipulation, validation of methods and processes, quality assurance according to ISO/IEC 17025 requirements.Based on the first experiences focused on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in environmental samples such as air quality filters, air-liquid impingers and wastewater samples, the present study describes a coherent preliminary approach to SARS-CoV-2 environmental sampling in order to overcome the evident lack of standardization. Three aspects are highlighted here: the first solution to assure quality and consistency to environmental sampling relies on the development of recovery tests using standard materials and investigating sampling materials, sampling techniques, sampling durations, sample conservation and pre-treatments; secondly, in order to overcome the shortcomings of every single sampling technique, coupling different samplers in parallel sampling could be an efficient strategy to collect more information and make data more reliable, in particular for air samples; finally, with regards to airborne virus sampling, the results could be confirmed by simplified emission and dilution models.


SARS-CoV-2; airborne transmission; environmental virology; bioaerosol; wastewater samples

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