Impact of sewer overflow on public health: A comprehensive scientometric analysis and systematic review

Adebayo Olatunbosun Sojobi, Tarek Zayed

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Sewer overflow (SO), which has attracted global attention, poses serious threat to public health and ecosystem. SO impacts public health via consumption of contaminated drinking water, aerosolization of pathogens, food-chain transmission, and direct contact with fecally-polluted rivers and beach sediments during recreation. However, no study has attempted to map the linkage between SO and public health including Covid-19 using scientometric analysis and systematic review of literature. Results showed that only few countries were actively involved in SO research in relation to public health. Furthermore, there are renewed calls to scale up environmental surveillance to safeguard public health. To safeguard public health, it is important for public health authorities to optimize water and wastewater treatment plants and improve building ventilation and plumbing systems to minimize pathogen transmission within buildings and transportation systems. In addition, health authorities should formulate appropriate policies that can enhance environmental surveillance and facilitate real-time monitoring of sewer overflow. Increased public awareness on strict personal hygiene and point-of-use-water-treatment such as boiling drinking water will go a long way to safeguard public health. Ecotoxicological studies and health risk assessment of exposure to pathogens via different transmission routes is also required to appropriately inform the use of lockdowns, minimize their socio-economic impact and guide evidence-based welfare/social policy interventions. Soft infrastructures, optimized sewer maintenance and prescreening of sewer overflow are recommended to reduce stormwater burden on wastewater treatment plant, curtail pathogen transmission and marine plastic pollution. Comprehensive, integrated surveillance and global collaborative efforts are important to curtail on-going Covid-19 pandemic and improve resilience against future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111609
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Public health
  • Scientometric analysis
  • Sewer overflow
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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