Sewage
as Sentinel

WastewaterSCAN’s monitoring provides a comprehensive view of COVID-19 and other diseases in a community.

VIEW DATA

What We Flush
Down the Toilet Can Tell Us a Great Deal

We call it “wastewater,” but we don’t want to waste it.

The information it holds about COVID-19, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and even monkeypox is invaluable. It can tell us about infection across an entire community.

Proven Tool,
Growing Use

Scientists have known the potential for wastewater-based epidemiology for decades. Israel has monitored wastewater for polio since the late 1980s. The COVID pandemic is the first-time wastewater has been used to track a respiratory disease.

The scientists leading WastewaterSCAN now look for other pathogens in sewage not only from what we flush but what we may wash off our bodies or catch in a tissue that we flush after we blow our noses.

Simple, Sensitive, Complete

Reliable

At the height of the pandemic, when clinical testing was widespread, WastewaterSCAN’s results tracked case counts closely. Today as testing practices have changed, it continues to provide an accurate, population-level view of infection.

Sensitive

Using solids, which carry about 1,000 times more viral genetic material than liquid sewage for SAR-CoV-2, monkeypox, and influenza, WastewaterSCAN’s method can identify a handful of infections per 100,000 people served by a wastewater system from a sample that weighs a quarter of a gram.

Representative

Wastewater monitoring covers almost everyone, nearly every day, in almost every household and business. No one is left out, including residents and neighborhoods historically underserved by the health care system.

Comparable

Testing controls accounting for sample differences allow results to be compared over time and from place to place.

Actionable

WastewaterSCAN’s approach gives officials and the public understandable, useful results that can guide how they respond to infections in their communities.

Quick
Turnaround

Communities return wastewater samples through no-cost overnight mail and have results within 48 hours of arrival.

Quicker turnaround for results can warn public health officials of a coming rise in cases before they show up as clinical results. For COVID-19, an infected person’s waste shows genetic markers of the COVID virus without the person needing to realize that they are ill, seek out a test, or wait for test results.

How to Join

WastewaterSCAN is offering its leading approach to wastewater
monitoring to communities across the United States.

Learn more about how communities can take part
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