Sewage sleuths helped an Arizona town beat back Covid-19. For wastewater epidemiology, that’s just the start
Wastewater testing and analysis have become critical tools for communities to gauge the levels of exposure to COVID-19 in their areas and to devise effective strategies to respond to the spread of the pandemic. The ASU Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Technology, directed by Fulton Schools Professor Rolf Halden, has been among research laboratories leading the way in advancing wastewater-based epidemiology to enable detection of indicators of diseases and other threats to public health in local water systems. The early work of center’s research team focused on helping protect the health of residents of the city of Tempe and neighboring Guadalupe as COVID-19 erupted. It has since expanded into various efforts in other towns, cities and regions that most needed help battling the pandemic, and also led to startup ventures that aim to expand the benefits of these health engineering advances to more regions.