Individual testing for COVID-19 is still being brought to scale across the U.S., but environmental engineers are working to track outbreaks at a community level. Their laboratory? Our sewers.
The New York Times reports efforts are underway to detect the virus in wastewater. This method has proved successful in providing early warnings on outbreaks for other viruses and in tracking the effectiveness of vaccines. The Times discusses many detection techniques, including looking for genetic material carried in fecal matter.
While wastewater testing for COVID-19 is still a work in progress, it could potentially help inform and direct a public health response.
– Melissa Mathews, The Engineering 100