Adsorption onto iron oxides can enhance the removal of waterborne viruses in constructed wetlands and soils. If reversible adsorption is not coupled with inactivation, however, infective viruses may be released when changes in solution conditions cause desorption. The goals of this study were to investigate the release of infective bacteriophages MS2 and Phi X174 (two human viral indicators) after adsorption onto an iron oxide coated sand (IOCS), and to promote viral inactivation by exploiting the photoreactive properties of the IOCS. The iron oxide coating greatly enhanced viral adsorption (adsorption densities up to similar to 10(9) infective viruses/g IOCS) onto the sand, but had no affect on infectivity. Viruses that were adsorbed onto IOCS under control conditions (pH 7.5, 10 mM Tris, 1250 mu S/cm) were released into solution in an infective state with increases in pH and humic acid concentrations. The exposure of IOCS-adsorbed MS2 to sunlight irradiation caused significant inactivation via a photocatalytic mechanism in both buffered solutions and in wastewater samples (4.9 log(10) and 3.3 log(10) inactivation after 24-h exposure, respectively). Unlike MS2, Phi X174 inactivation was not enhanced by photocatalysis. In summary, IOCS enhanced the separation of viruses from the water column, and additionally provided a photocatalytic mechanism to promote inactivation of one of the surrogates studied. These qualities make it an attractive option for improving viral control strategies in constructed wetlands. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.