Selected Mechanistic Aspects of Viral Inactivation by Peracetic Acid

Bradley W. Schmitz, Hanwei Wang, Kellogg Schwab, Joseph Jacangelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peracetic acid (PAA) is an alternative to traditional wastewater disinfection as it has a high oxidation potential without producing chlorinated disinfection byproducts. Reports have shown the effectiveness of PAA to reduce waterborne viruses, but the mechanism of inactivation is understudied. This study evaluated PAA consumption by amino acids and nucleotides that are the building blocks of both viral capsids and genomes. Cysteine (>1.7 min-1) and methionine (>1.2 min-1) rapidly consumed PAA, while cystine (1.9 × 10-2min-1) and tryptophan (1.4 × 10-4min-1) reactions occurred at a slower rate. All other amino acids and nucleotides did not react significantly (p< 0.05) with PAA during experiments. Also, PAA treatment did not result in significant (p< 0.05) reductions of purified RNA from MS2 bacteriophage and murine norovirus. Data in this study suggest that PAA effectively inactivates viruses by targeting susceptible amino acids on capsid proteins and does not readily damage viral genomes. Knowledge of virus capsid structures and protein compositions can be used to qualitatively predict the relative resistance or susceptibility of virus types to PAA. Capsid structures containing a higher total number of target amino acids may be more susceptible to PAA reactions that damage structural integrity resulting in inactivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16120-16129
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 7 2021


  • amino acid
  • disinfection
  • peracetic acid
  • virus capsid
  • virus inactivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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