Virus Sensitivity Index of UV disinfection

Environ Technol. May-Jun 2015;36(9-12):1464-75. doi: 10.1080/09593330.2014.994040. Epub 2015 Jan 3.


A new concept of Virus Sensitivity Index (VSI) is defined as the ratio between the first-order inactivation rate constant of a virus, ki, and that of MS2-phage during UV disinfection, kr. MS2-phage is chosen as the reference virus because it is recommended as a virus indicator during UV reactor design and validation by the US Environmental Protection Agency. VSI has wide applications in research, design, and validation of UV disinfection systems. For example, it can be used to rank the UV disinfection sensitivity of viruses in reference to MS2-phage. There are four major steps in deriving the equation between Hi/Hr and 1/VSI. First, the first-order inactivation rate constants are determined by regression analysis between Log I and fluence required. Second, the inactivation rate constants of MS2-phage are statistically analysed at 3, 4, 5, and 6 Log I levels. Third, different VSI values are obtained from the ki of different viruses dividing by the kr of MS2-phage. Fourth, correlation between Hi/Hr and 1/VSI is analysed by using linear, quadratic, and cubic models. As expected from the theoretical analysis, a linear relationship adequately correlates Hi/Hr and 1/VSI without an intercept. VSI is used to quantitatively predict the UV fluence required for any virus at any log inactivation (Log I). Four equations were developed at 3, 4, 5, and 6 Log I. These equations have been validated using external data which are not used for the virus development. At Log I less than 3, the equation tends to under-predict the required fluence at both low Log I such as 1 and 2 Log I. At Log I greater than 3 Log I, the equation tends to over-predict the fluence required. The reasons for these may very likely be due to the shoulder at the beginning and the tailing at the end of the collimated beam test experiments. At 3 Log I, the error percentage is less than 6%. The VSI is also used to predict inactivation rate constants under two different UV disinfection scenarios such as under sunlight and different virus aggregates. The correlation analysis shows that viruses will be about 40% more sensitive to sunlight than to UV254. On the other hand, virus size of 500 nm will reduce their VSI by 10%. This is the first attempt to use VSI to predict the required fluence at any given Log I. The equation can be used to quantitatively evaluate other parameters influencing UV disinfection. These factors include environmental species, antibiotic-resistant bacteria or genes, photo and dark repair, water quality such as suspended solids, and UV transmittance.

Keywords: MS2-phage as a reference virus; UV disinfection fluence equations; Virus Sensitivity Index (VSI); validation and prediction of virus inactivation rate constants.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Disinfection / standards*
  • Levivirus
  • Regression Analysis
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Virus Inactivation*
  • Viruses / radiation effects*