On the cause of the tailing phenomenon during virus disinfection by chlorine dioxide
This study investigates the mechanisms underlying the deviation from Chick-Watson kinetics, namely a tailing curve, during the disinfection of viruses by chlorine dioxide (ClO2). Tailing has been previously reported, but is typically attributed to the decay in disinfectant concentration. Herein, it is shown that tailing occurs even at constant ClO2 concentrations. Four working hypothesis to explain the cause of tailing were tested, namely changes in the solution’s disinfecting capacity, aggregation of viruses, resistant virus subpopulations, and changes in the virus properties over the course of reaction. In experiments using MS2 as a model virus, it was possible to rule out the solution’s disinfecting capacity, virus aggregation and the resistant subpopulation as reasons for tailing. Instead, the cause for tailing is the deposition of an adduct onto the virus capsid over the course of the experiment, which protects the viruses. This adduct could easily be removed by washing, which restored the susceptibility of the viruses to ClO2. This finding highlights an important shortcoming of ClO2, namely its self-limiting effect on virus disinfection. It is important to take this effect into account in treatment applications to ensure that the water is sufficiently disinfected before human consumption.