SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the current global pandemic, COVID-19. Because this virus is novel, little is known about its sensitivity to disinfection. In this study, we performed suspension tests against SARS-CoV-2 using three commercially available quaternary ammonium compound (Quat) disinfectants and one laboratory-made 0.2% benzalkonium chloride solution. Three of the four formulations completely inactivated the virus within 15 seconds of contact, even in the presence of a soil load or when diluted in hard water. We conclude that Quats rapidly inactivate SARS-CoV-2, making them potentially useful for controlling SARS-CoV-2 spread in hospitals and the community. In addition to disinfection, little is known about the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 to wastewater. A number of researchers have tracked the spread of COVID-19 by using qPCR to look for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater, but it is unclear how long that RNA lasts or whether that RNA is from intact or inactivated virus. In this study, we added laboratory-grown SARS-CoV-2 to various samples of wastewater and measured its persistence using both qPCR, which detects all viral RNA, and a plaque assay, which detects only infectious virus. The level of infectious virus declined sharply by over 4 log reductions during an 8 day time period, while the level of measurable RNA did not decline significantly. Autoclaving or filtering the wastewater before adding virus attenuated this effect, producing declines of only around 1-3 logs for the infectious virus over 8 days and no significant decline for the RNA.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus, disinfection, quaternary ammonium, hand sanitizer, persistence, wastewater



Included in

Life Sciences Commons