Joy Ackerman, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
Over the past twenty years there has been a continuing increase in the disposal of domestic waste through in-ground septic systems. It has also been reported by the Office of Technology Assessment that on-site septic systems are one of the major sources of enteric viruses in the groundwater and are responsible for an increasing outbreak of waterborne diseases. This has led to an increase in scientific studies in concerning enteric viruses, their movement and survival in the unsaturated soils impacted by on-site septic systems. This project is a literature search which seeks to identify current scientific studies, both in the United States and abroad, concerning the movement and survival of human enteric viruses in unsaturated soils. The project consists of an overview of viruses followed by numerous factors that have been studied for their affect on the survival and movement of viruses in the subsurface. It is hoped that this literature search will provide some guidance for State and local agencies as they develop guidelines and regulations for septic systems to protect surface and groundwater from contamination by viruses.