Four Unexpected Things Wastewater Can Teach Us About Ourselves

*As published on The Water World

Hila Korach Rechtman, Andrew Engeli

Early in the pandemic, researchers demonstrated that wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) – in other words, analyzing the contents of our sewage – could help track and understand the spread of COVID-19 faster than voluntary public testing or contact tracing. The effectiveness of wastewater intelligence in battling the pandemic highlighted the vast potential of this epidemiological methodology to go far beyond coronavirus tracking and address some of society’s other pressing problems.

By early 2022 – the peak of the Omicron wave – wastewater analysis had become a vital tool for healthcare authorities tasked with tracking the pandemic and was subsequently used tracing recent outbreaks of polio and monkeypox. Similar “sewage sleuthing” has already been established to bolster cross-border preparedness for future pandemics.


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