This World Water Day, WEF’s research community has its eyes turned to public health issues and the treatment of unconventional contaminants. As data testing and analytics become more sophisticated, researchers are better able to detect contaminants in water that could have an adverse effect on public health. Fortunately, advances in treatment methodologies can also keep pace.

A special “virtual” issue of Water Environment Research includes cutting-edge research on public health issues such as pathogens and viruses as well as research on antibiotics, antibiotic resistant genes, PFAS, and microplastics in the water environment. This virtual issue is freely available for the entire month of March and includes the papers listed below:

Removal of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Various Water Resources Recovery Facilities (Kucukunsal and Icgen, 2019) is a study of various antibiotic resistant genes, which treatment processes better remove them, and seasonal variations in their removal.

Challenge for the Detection of Microplastics in the Environment (Lv et al., 2019) acknowledges that microplastics have attracted worldwide attention and the importance of standardized sampling and separation methods. Though the researchers identify analytical methods for better identifying microplastics, they conclude that quantification of smaller plastic particles is still a challenge.

Removal of Disinfection By-Products and Their Precursors During Drinking Water Treatment Processes (Lin et al., 2019) stresses that, though the disinfection of drinking water successfully deactivates pathogens and protects public health, research is needed to address the byproducts created as a result of that disinfection.

Wastewater workers are at increased risk of infectious illnesses and policies to protect workers from these illnesses are lacking. Protecting Wastewater Works from Disease Risks: Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines (LeChevallier et al., 2019) provides guidelines for use of personal protective equipment by wastewater operators to prevent exposure to infectious agents.

Per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used in a variety of consumer and industrial products and are known to accumulate in sludge. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Commercially Available Biosolid-Based Products: The Effect of Treatment Processes (Lazcano et al., 2019) is a study of the effects of various treatment processes on PFAS concentrations.

Antibiotics have extensively been used to save lives through prevention and treatment of contagious diseases and infections. However, antibiotics are known to adversely affect organisms in the aquatic environment. The properties and detection of antibiotic compounds are presented in Physicochemical Properties of Antibiotics: A Review with an Emphasis on Detection in the Aquatic Environment (Ozumchelouei et al., 2019).

Additional papers in this issue include the following:

Dr. Zhen (Jason) He


Dr. Zhen (Jason) He is the editor-in-chief of Water Environment Research. He is also a professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Explore Other WaterBlogs

The WEF WaterBlog covers a wide range of topics relevant to WEF, its Member Associations, and the water sector. Authors are invited to share their opinions1, experiences, and expertise.

Access the full list of
WEF WaterBlogs

1These blogs offer the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official policy of the organization.