CDC Preparing Ebola Guidance for Wastewater Sector Workers

Water Environment Federation update on Ebola and the wastewater sector:

To address the concerns and questions from the water sector, many water and public health organizations, including the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), have been seeking reliable and credible information on Ebola. While currently there is limited data on the fate and transport of Ebola in wastewater collection systems, developing protective precautions is prudent. To that end, these organizations have been in contact and conversation with appropriate federal agencies on the issue of wastewater worker safety and the inactivation of Ebola by wastewater treatment processes.

During a conference call, organized by WEF on Oct. 16, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared that CDC has prepared and is conducting an internal review of an interim guidance. The guidance, Interim Guidance for Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Ebola Cases in the United States, will address basic hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use and disposal actions that should be taken.

Specifically this guidance will provide guidance and protocols for

  • workers who perform sewer maintenance,
  • construction workers who repair or replace live sewers,
  • plumbers, and
  • workers who clean portable toilets.

CDC stated that this review would expedited and indicated that guidance could be released as soon as late October. As CDC is the lead federal agency for Ebola containment and prevention, the best ongoing resource for information is www.cdc.gov/ebola.

In the meantime, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has some general guidance available on workplace safety and health related to Ebola at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ebola.

WEF will communicate any updates as soon as CDC releases the guidance or any new information becomes available.

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