The human health observatory in our sewers
Advances in wastewater testing are expanding ways in which public health can be monitored — and the ways the spread of contagious diseases can be tracked. That capability has been especially important during the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. Work at ASU’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering, led by Fulton Schools Professor Rolf Halden and his team, has helped to open up new aspects of wastewater epidemiology to provide critical information about the transmission of COVID and other health threats. Progress by the center’s researchers and other experts in the field around the world is leading to establishment of wastewater surveillance systems that can alert local health agencies to the rise of diseases. Officials can then use the data to make decisions about allocating resources to help combat outbreaks. Halden says wastewater analysis can also provide information that can be used to proactively guide people in adopting healthier lifestyle habits.