COVID Surveillance at Wastewater Treatment Plants
The COVID-19 virus is shed in the waste of people before they feel ill. Theoretically, frequent analysis of raw sewage could show a rise in virus levels before people start seeking medical help, giving a warning to the health care system.
Wastewater treatment plants have been partnering with the EPA, private labs, and universities around the country to monitor levels of COVID virus in wastewater since July 2020 as part of a National Wastewater Surveillance System. In Ohio, the University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) is analyzing samples collected from the wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) operated by Toledo, Oregon, and Lucas County. UTMC is sharing their information with other Ohio Universities including Ohio State, Kent State, and Bowling Green State University. Dr. Saurabh Chattopadhyay from UTMC recently made a presentation on COVID surveillance to TMACOG’s Wastewater Committee.
One reason to monitor wastewater is that the virus is shed in the waste of people who are both symptomatic and non-symptomatic. This means that sewage analysis is showing active virus rates and not just rates of people who have had to seek medical help. Also, people shed the virus before they