News Briefs: WWTP Workers in Baltimore Stage Walkout, Citing Unsafe Conditions

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, researchers are working to track the prevalence of COVID-19 by testing untreated wastewater

Workers at Baltimore, Maryland’s Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant recently staged a walkout, citing unsafe working conditions, according to WMAR News.

One worker told the news organization that the crew didn’t get any hand sanitizer until the end of March. “Prior to that, we had no hand sanitizer on the plant whatsoever. We have no breathing apparatus, we have no protective clothing.”

City officials are reportedly getting protective equipment to the workers.

Researchers Working to Track COVID-19 in Wastewater

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) in New Zealand is starting a project that aims to track the distribution of COVID-19 in the nation, according to NewsHub.

“By detecting and monitoring coronavirus in wastewater, we could potentially see how effective eradication is, gauge changes in different regions, as well as better understand the patterns of community transmission,” Dr. Brett Cowan, ESR’s chief scientist, tells the news organization.

“While wastewater-based epidemiology is still seen as an emerging science, we’re already using it to better understand the health and wellbeing of our communities.”

Meanwhile, domestically, researchers at the University of Arizona are using their own approach to track the spread of the virus in untreated wastewater.

“The test looks at total viral load from a community, so that includes people who are asymptomatic,” Ian Pepper, director of the University of Arizona Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center, tells UPI. “So that’s a big advantage. We should also be able to see whether the pandemic increasing, decreasing or staying the same in a particular region, which I think is very valuable.”

Steel Slag From Wastewater Treatment Can Be Recycled to Make Stronger Concrete

In other news, researchers have shown how a byproduct of steelmaking can be used to both treat wastewater and make stronger concrete in a zero-waste approach to help advance the circular economy.

Produced during the separation of molten steel from impurities, steel slag is often used as a substitute aggregate material for making concrete.

Steel slag can also be used to absorb contaminants like phosphate, magnesium, iron, calcium, silica and aluminum in the wastewater treatment process, but loses its effectiveness over time.

Engineering researchers at RMIT University examined whether slag that had been used to treat wastewater could then be recycled as an aggregate material for concrete.

The concrete made with post-treatment steel slag was about 17% stronger than concrete made with conventional aggregates and 8% stronger than raw steel slag.

Water engineer Dr. Biplob Pramanik said the study was the first to investigate potential applications for “sewage-enhanced” slag in construction material. Read more about it here.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.