NAWC has been working with water associations and public health organizations to obtain reliable and credible information on the fate and transport of the Ebola virus in wastewater collection and drinking water systems in order address the concerns and questions from the water sector and to develop protective precautions.
To that end, we are in contact and in conversation with the CDC and US EPA on the issue of wastewater worker safety and the inactivation of Ebola by wastewater treatment processes.
On Oct. 16, 2014, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—the lead federal agency for Ebola containment and prevention—shared with water sector during a conference call that CDC has prepared and is conducting an internal review of an interim guidance, Interim Guidance for Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Ebola Cases in the United States, that will address basic hygiene practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use and disposal actions that should be taken.
Specifically this guidance will provide protocols for:
- workers who perform sewer maintenance,
- construction workers who repair or replace live sewers,
- plumbers, and
- workers who clean portable toilets.
CDC plans to expedite their review of this guidance so it can be released as soon as late October. After they release this guidance, they will turn their attention to developing a FAQ or guidance relative to drinking water systems. Currently there is limited data available, but 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.