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Performance analysis of sheep wool fibres as a water filter medium for human enteric virus removal.

Abstract

Sheep wool is increasingly attracting interest for its applications in water and wastewater treatment because of its unique natural properties and superior environmental sustainability compared with non-renewable synthetic materials. While many studies' findings demonstrate wool's substantial capacity for absorbing heavy metals and organic contaminants from water and wastewater, little information is available describing its virus reduction capabilities during water filtration. This preliminary study examined scoured fine- and coarse- wool fibres regarding their abilities to remove human norovirus, adenovirus and rotavirus during water filtration. For each type of wool, 3 virus challenge experiments were conducted using wool-packed glass columns (30 cm long, 3.5 cm diameter) and bore water under a flow rate of 7.3–7.5 mL/s. The results from both wool types were very similar despite their different fibre sizes. The viruses showed greater reductions than the non-reactive water tracer, NaCl. The mass recovery ratios of the viruses to NaCl were 0.62–0.63 for norovirus, 0.64–0.65 for adenovirus and 0.40–0.42 for rotavirus. The log10 reduction values were 0.22–0.23, 0.21–0.22 and 0.45–0.52 for norovirus, adenovirus and rotavirus, respectively. Compared with previous studies' results, the virus reductions in wool appeared greater than those in polyester and polypropylene filters, and river sand. Our findings suggest that wool has some capacity to remove viruses during water filtration. With surface modifications to enhance its virus removal properties, wool has great potential as an alternative filter medium for treating point-of-use drinking water, especially in resourceless situations requiring practical solutions for accessing safe water.

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