Environmental challenges of COVID-19 pandemic: resilience and sustainability – A review

Anusha Ekanayake, Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Choolaka Hewawasam, Uttpal Anand, Elza Bontempi, Sudarshan Kurwadkar, Jayanta Kumar Biswas, Meththika Vithanage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence of novel respiratory disease (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 has become a public health emergency worldwide and perturbed the global economy and ecosystem services. Many studies have reported the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental compartments, its transmission via environmental routes, and potential environmental challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. None of these studies have comprehensively reviewed the bidirectional relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and the environment. For the first time, we explored the relationship between the environment and the SARS-CoV-2 virus/COVID-19 and how they affect each other. Supporting evidence presented here clearly demonstrates the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in soil and water, denoting the role of the environment in the COVID-19 transmission process. However, most studies fail to determine if the viral genomes they have discovered are infectious, which could be affected by the environmental factors in which they are found.The potential environmental impact of the pandemic, including water pollution, chemical contamination, increased generation of non-biodegradable waste, and single-use plastics have received the most attention. For the most part, efficient measures have been used to address the current environmental challenges from COVID-19, including using environmentally friendly disinfection technologies and employing measures to reduce the production of plastic wastes, such as the reuse and recycling of plastics. Developing sustainable solutions to counter the environmental challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic should be included in national preparedness strategies. In conclusion, combating the pandemic and accomplishing public health goals should be balanced with environmentally sustainable measures, as the two are closely intertwined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114496
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Environmental challenges
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Soil
  • Virus transmission
  • Waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science (all)


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