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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Virus Transport through Saturated Sand Columns as Affected by Different Buffer Solutions


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 4, p. 1103-1110
    Received: Sept 30, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): yjin@udel.edu
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  1. Yanjie Chu,
  2. Yan Jin * and
  3. Marylynn V. Yates
  1. Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521.



To accurately examine the mechanisms that control virus retention and transport in porous media, it is essential to perform experiments under environmentally relevant conditions. Laboratory studies of virus transport are generally conducted using buffered solutions. However, there are no standards for the concentration and composition of the solution, making comparisons between different studies difficult. Our objective was to systematically investigate the effects of the ionic strength and composition of buffer solutions on adsorption of viruses during transport through saturated sand columns. Two phosphate buffered saline solutions (PBS and PBS2) and one artificial ground water (AGW) were used and experiments were conducted under saturated, steady state flow conditions. Bromide tracer and bacteriophages φX174 and MS-2 were introduced into saturated sand columns as step inputs and their concentrations in the outflow samples were determined. Change in ionic strength did not affect the behavior of φX174, whereas MS-2 was largely removed in the high ionic strength PBS buffer (0.16 M) but moved through the columns in the low ionic strength PBS2 and AGW buffers (0.002 2M). An additional experiment conducted under an ionic strength gradient (from 0.002 to 0.2 M) using PBS indicated that the outflow concentration of MS-2 decreased slowly from an ionic strength of ∼0.03 M, reached a minimum at an apparent critical value of ∼0.1 M, and then increased gradually. This study also suggests that metals or metal oxides on sand surfaces can cause significant virus removal under high ionic strength conditions.

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