Stabilization of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater via rapid RNA extraction

Soroosh Torabi, Atena Amirsoleimani, Mohammad Dehghan Banadaki, William Dalton Strike, Alexus Rockward, Ann Noble, Matthew Liversedge, James W. Keck, Scott M. Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Wastewater-based Epidemiology (WBE) has contributed to surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in communities across the world. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 can shed the virus through the gastrointestinal tract, enabling the quantification of the virus in stool and ultimately in wastewater (WW). Unfortunately, instability of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater limits the utility of WBE programs, particularly in remote/rural regions where reliable cold storage and/or rapid shipping may be unavailable. This study examined whether rapid SARS-CoV-2 RNA extraction on the day of sample collection could minimize degradation. Importantly, the extraction technology used in these experiments, termed exclusion-based sample preparation (ESP), is lightweight, portable, and electricity-free, making it suitable for implementation in remote settings. We demonstrated that immediate RNA extraction followed by ambient storage significantly increased the RNA half-life compared to raw wastewater samples stored at both 4 °C or ambient temperature. Given that RNA degradation negatively impacts both the sensitivity and precision of WBE measurements, efforts must be made to mitigate degradation in order to maximize the potential impact of WBE on public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162992
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 20 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • COVID-19
  • Degradation
  • RNA stabilization
  • Temperature
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Stabilization of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater via rapid RNA extraction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this