Message from WEF President, Jacqueline A. Jarrell, P.E. and Executive Director Walter Marlowe, P.E., CAE
A core part of our mission for the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is sharing the latest science and technical information with you to enable protection of public health and the environment. To this end, we want to let you know that WEF members and staff are closely monitoring the latest information about the novel coronavirus and how to protect our water workforce and public health. This includes staying in contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about developments.
In these situations, the understanding and necessary response evolves as the scientific and technical community does its work, but WEF wants to provide the best information we have now and let you know where to find the latest resources.
WEF published a webpage at www.wef.org/coronavirus that includes articles, resources, and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as key information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
While the science is still developing, OSHA says that current disinfection conditions in water resource recovery facilities, such as oxidation with hypochlorite or peracetic acid, and inactivation by ultraviolet irradiation, are expected to be sufficient to protect wastewater workers and public health from coronavirus. Current OSHA guidance also indicates that water workers do not need to take special precautions to be protected. Facilities should ensure workers continue to follow recommended best practices to prevent exposure to wastewater, including safe work practices and personal protective equipment normally required for work tasks when handling untreated wastewater. Again, this is the understanding at the moment and we encourage you to monitor for updates, including on our webpage.
To help put the outbreak of coronavirus into perspective for the water sector, the WEF Disinfection and Public Health Committee (DPHC) Waterborne Infectious Disease Outbreak Control (WIDOC) Working Group has created a series of articles that explain the current situation. These articles also contain many links to developing research on this epidemic:
- The Water Professionals Guide to the Coronavirus
- How Coronovirus Compares to SARS and MERS
- Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus Infection
WEF is also closely coordinating with The Water Research Foundation on the science and communications around the coronavirus. We will jointly host a webinar on February 25 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Learn more and register for the webinar.
While these situations are challenging, we are grateful that the tremendous expertise and tireless dedication of WEF members and staff allow us to respond rapidly. Thank you for your efforts and contributions to our water community.
For more visit www.wef.org/coronavirus
Photo credit: Pixabay licensed https://pixabay.com/illustrations/virus-viruses-coronavirus-4835301/