Three human enteric viruses (poliovirus, echovirus, coxsackievirus) suspended in seawater or buffer were stable for 6 hr in the absence of sunlight but were inactivated at the same rate in the presence of sunlight. Under summer sunlight conditions, at least 3 logs of these viruses were inactivated by one-hit kinetics while under winter sunlight conditions only 1 log of these viruses was inactivated by two-hit kinetics. Under these same conditions, 6 logs of E. coli were inactivated within 1 hr by one-hit kinetics under summer and winter conditions. In comparison, E. faecalis was inactivated by two-hit kinetics and only 2.5 logs of inactivation were observed after 4 hr of exposure to winter sunlight. Since human enteric viruses are considerably more resistant to sunlight inactivation than E. coli and moderately more resistant than E. faecalis, marine recreational water quality standards should be based on concentrations of enterococci and not on coliform bacteria. Since the mechanism and rate of inactivation of coliphage and human enteric viruses are similar, coliphages appear to be the best indicator for the presence of human enteric viruses in recreational waters, especially coastal waters where abundant sunshine is available.

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