Emerging topics related to the Environmental Engineering

1. Transmission of COVID-19 virus

The practice of social distancing and wearing masks have been popular worldwide in combating the contraction of COVID-19. Undeniably, although such practices help control the COVID-19 pandemic to a greater extent, the complete control of virus-laden droplet and aerosol transmission by such practices is poorly understood. The case studies that have come out in different countries have, with prima facie evidence, manifested that airborne transmission plays a profound role in contracting susceptible hosts. The infection propensities in confined spaces (airplane, passenger car, and healthcare center) by the transmission of droplets and aerosols under varying ventilation conditions were discussed.

Interestingly, the nosocomial transmission by airborne SARS-CoV-2 virus-laden aerosols in healthcare facilities may be plausible. Hence, clearly defined, science-based administrative, clinical, and physical measures are of paramount importance to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic from the world.


  • Jayaweera, M., Perera, H., Gunawardana, B., & Manatunge, J. (2020). Transmission of COVID-19 virus by droplets and aerosols: A critical review on the unresolved dichotomy. Environmental Research, 109819.

2. Occurrence and Fate of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in water and wastewater

Contaminants of Emerging Concern are any synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals or any microorganisms that are not commonly monitored in the environment but have the potential to enter the environment and cause known or suspected adverse ecological and human health effects. The CECs may be new substances, or they may have been around for a long time but only recently have been detected in the environment. Some of the common classes of CECs include plasticizers, herbicides, pesticides, PAHs, antibiotics, and disinfection byproducts. Once the CECs get into the aquatic environment, their ultimate fate, i.e., bioaccumulation, spatial distribution, and partition between dissolved and bound to suspended particulate material phases, in aquatic ecosystems is relatively unclear. CECs have many different potential health impacts on humans and other species. The potential to cause cancer or have toxic effects in animals and humans is noted, but the concern most frequently mentioned is endocrine disruption. The advances in analytical techniques have increased the ability to detect the occurrence of CECs, even when they are present in trace levels.

Some of our main focuses include:

  • Fate and transport of Glyphosate and its degradation byproducts: Implications for remediation at CKDu Endemic areas in Sri Lanka
  • Mobilization of Glyphosate from top soils in Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) prevalent areas
  • Migration of phthalates from PET water bottles under different environmental conditions
  • Distribution of Phthalic Acid Esters in Urban Watercourses of Colombo and control of their migration
  • Assessment of Bisphenol levels in Leachate generated from municipal solid waste open dumps in Sri Lanka
  • Investigation of existing levels of Bispheols in aquatic environments and their ecological risks
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban watercourses in Colombo and suburbs


  • Jayaweera, M., Perera, H., Bandara, N., Danushika, G., Gunawardana, B., Somaratne, C., Manatunge, J., Zoysa, K., & Thathsara, T. (2020). Migration of phthalates from PET water bottle in events of repeated uses and associated risk assessment. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-15.
  • Jayaweera, M., Danushika, G., Bandara, N., Dissanayake, J., Gunawardana, B., Manatunge, J., & Zoysa, K. (2019). Urban Watercourses in Peril: Implications of Phthalic Acid Esters on Aquatic Ecosystems Caused by Urban Sprawl. Water11(3), 519.
  • Gunarathna, S., Gunawardana, B., Jayaweera, M., Manatunge, J., & Zoysa, K. (2018). Glyphosate and AMPA of agricultural soil, surface water, groundwater and sediments in areas prevalent with chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology, Sri Lanka. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B53(11), 729-737.
  • Perera, P. H. G., Bandara, N. J. G. I., Danushika, U. A. A. G., Jayaweera, M. W., Somaratne, M. C. W., Thathsara, S. K. T., Gunawardana, B., & Manatunge, J. M. A. (2018). Migration of Phthalic Acid Esters from PET Water Bottles: Implications   of   Reusing   Empty   Bottles   for Storing Ambient and Warm Water for Subsequent Consumption. Proceedings of the 23rd International Forestry and Environment Symposium-2018, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.
  • Gunarathna, S., Gunawardana, B., Jayaweera, M., & Zoysa, K. (2017). Risk Assessment of the active ingredient, Glyphosate of the herbicide Roundup present in water sources of CKDu prevalent areas for humans, Annual Sessions of IESL, 525-530.