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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Assessment of two types of passive sampler for the efficient recovery of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses from wastewater

Kevill, Jessica L.; Lambert-Slosarska, Kathryn; Pellett, Cameron; Woodhall, Nick; Richardson-O'Neill, India S.; Pântea, Igor; Alex-Sanders, Natasha; Farkas, Kata; Jones, Davey L.


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has proven to be a useful surveillance tool during the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and has driven research into evaluating the most reliable and cost-effective techniques for obtaining a representative sample of wastewater. When liquid samples cannot be taken efficiently, passive sampling approaches have been used, however, insufficient data exists on their usefulness for multi-virus capture and recovery. In this study, we compared the virus-binding capacity of two passive samplers (cotton-based tampons and ion exchange filter papers) in two different water types (deionised water and wastewater). Here we focused on the capture of wastewater-associated viruses including Influenza A and B (Flu-A & B), SARS-CoV-2, human adenovirus (AdV), norovirus GII (NoVGII), measles virus (MeV), pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), the faecal marker crAssphage and the process control virus Pseudomonas virus phi6. After deployment, we evaluated four different methods to recover viruses from the passive samplers namely, (i) phosphate buffered saline (PBS) elution followed by polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation, (ii) beef extract (BE) elution followed by PEG precipitation, (iii) no-elution into PEG precipitation, and (iv) direct extraction. We found that the tampon-based passive samplers had higher viral recoveries in comparison to the filter paper. Overall, the preferred viral recovery method from the tampon passive samplers was the no-elution/PEG precipitation method. Furthermore, we evidenced that non-enveloped viruses had higher percent recoveries from the passive samplers than enveloped viruses. This is the first study of its kind to assess passive sampler and viral recovery methods amongst a plethora of viruses commonly found in wastewater or used as a viral surrogate in wastewater studies.


COVID-19 surveillance; Sewage sampling; Viral capture method; Public health risk; Environmental monitoring

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2022, volume: 838, number: Part 4, article number: 156580

Authors' information

Kevill, Jessica L.
Bangor University
Lambert-Slosarska, Kathryn
Bangor University
Bangor University
Woodhall, Nick
Bangor University
Richardson-O'Neill, India S.
Bangor University
Pântea, Igor
Bangor University
Alex-Sanders, Natasha
Bangor University
Farkas, Kata
Bangor University
Jones, Davey L.
Bangor University

UKÄ Subject classification

Diagnostic Biotechnology

Publication Identifiers


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