ThiRes reviewearchers proposes an assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic positive and negative impacts on water bodies on different continents. Regarding the positive impacts, the SARS-CoV-2 monitoring in sewage waters is a useful mechanism in the promptly exposure of community infections and, during the pandemic, many water bodies all over the world had lower pollution levels. The negative impacts are as follows: SARS-CoV-2 presence in untreated sewage water amplifies the risk to human health; there is a lack of adequate elimination processes of plastics, drugs, and biological pollution in wastewater treatment plants; the amount of municipal and medical waste that pollutes water bodies increased; and waste recycling decreased. Urgent preventive measures need to be taken to implement effective solutions for water protection.
The present article analysed the positive and negative SARS-CoV-2 impacts on the status and quality of water resources of rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, identified over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. No scientific divergence has been detected on beneficial impacts nor on adverse effects on water bodies and types.
The study managed to highlight the fact that water quality problems were diagnosed in densely populated territories where, even before the pandemic, the communities had issues with supplying water of adequate quality and treating wastewater using advanced and effective technologies. In heavily inhabited countries with inadequate wastewater treatment plants, the risk of contamination is particularly high as the new coronavirus can persist for a few days in raw sewage water and for a longer time in areas with low temperatures. WResearchers highly recommend that in these countries, urgent preventive measures be taken to implement effective solutions for water protection and wastewater treatment. This is only possible by improving existing water policies.
To summarize, the positive impacts are as follows:
Succinctly, the negative impacts are along these lines:
These positive and negative impacts are briefly presented in Table 21:
Positive and negative COVID-19 impacts on water bodies/systems/types.
Positive COVID-19 Impacts on Water Bodies/Systems/Types
Negative COVID-19 Impacts on Water Bodies/Systems/Types
SARS-CoV-2 monitoring in wastewaters—a useful mechanism in the promptly exposure of community infections
SARS-CoV-2 presence in wastewaters > high risk of untreated wastewaters
Many surface and ground-/subsurface water bodies all over the world saw lower pollution levels caused by domestic and industrial wastewater discharge
Plastic, drugs/chemicals and biological pollution in wastewaters > lack of adequate elimination processes at wastewater treatment plants
Greater amounts of municipal and medical waste (sanitary consumables, disposable supplies, etc.) that may pollute surface water bodies, shorelines and beaches, and lower waste recycling rates.
As humans and the environment interact constantly, any environmental damage directly or indirectly affects human health, and any pandemic has inevitable consequences on the environment.
WResearchers highlight that this pandemic provides an unprecedented opportunity to the worldwide scientists: to re-estimate the impact of the development of human society and, implicitly, of the constant feedback of nature, in pre- and post-COVID scenarios.
Environmental deterioration is accompanied in many situations by pandemic risks. Human wellbeing and environmental health are deeply connected in a holistic circle. It seems that wresearchers have forgotten this. Nothing of this holistic form should be disturbed, destroyed or fragmented. WeReseasrchers, as humanity, a society, the government or simple human beings, should reflect on what forced us to slow down during the pandemic lockdown, which had beneficial influences on the environment. We Researchers should enact this “slow and careful behaviour” in ourresearcher's daily life without any health emergency or threat.
Biologists (geneticists, virologists, etc.) should continue their sustained and hard work on SARS-CoV viruses and their possible recombination effects. At the same time, maybe this is the right moment for a new legitimate scientific field: food education. Our society should decrease animal protein consumption, should reduce wildlife exploitation and should improve husbandry practices. It is impossible to turn the entire world population vegetarian and/or vegan suddenly, but food education in order to diminish meat consumption is compulsory.
Additionally, certain social and economic practices and behaviors should be installed in the lives of communities after the COVID-19 pandemic ends: traffic reduction during the weekends or in city centres or on certain highways/avenues; temporary close of some polluting entities, without jeopardising local economies or jobs; increased hygiene awareness; access to safe drinking water and bathwater; investing in wastewater treatment plants in territories where they do not exist; and public education (using all mass media outlets) about the all-type-waste management: education in schools, high-schools, universities, education for youth and seniors, education for merchants and consumers, education for medical staff and patients, etc.
Let us hope that wresearche rs have learned and are still learning valuable lessons from this pandemic crisis, which will be the basis for the proper, ethical and correct definition of society’s priorities for the imminent future.