Jun 17, 2020

Battelle Receives NSF Funding to Track Viruses in Wastewater

A team of researchers will test wastewater in Toledo, Ohio for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19 

coronavirus covid-19

A Battelle team of researchers will test wastewater in Toledo, Ohio for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as other viral pathogens.

The goal is to pinpoint specific neighborhoods that are hotspots for viral outbreaks, according to a recent press release.

The Battelle team will test those samples for the SARS-Co-V-2 virus and other pathogens. 

"This should give us a reflection of what's going on in specific neighborhoods," said Battelle Principal Research Scientist Rachel Spurbeck, one of the leaders of the project. "It will give us granularity about where infection hotspots are in the city. It will help us develop a tool for a wastewater pathogen tracking dashboard that shows the distribution of viruses in neighborhoods that will be available to public health agencies.”

The funding is provided by the National Science Foundation and is part of the COVID-19 rapid response program, which will be pilot tested for a year. Battelle has contracted Great Lakes Environmental Center to perform 24-hour automatic wastewater sampling at manhole locations around Toledo.

The Battelle team will test those samples for the SARS-Co-V-2 virus and other pathogens. “This should give us a reflection of what’s going on in specific neighborhoods,” said Battelle Principal Research Scientist Rachel Spurbeck, one of the leaders of the project. “It will give us granularity about where infection hotspots are in the city.”

If the project works as anticipated, it can be expanded to multiple locations in other cities.

“It won’t just be descriptive,” said Spurbeck. “It will help us develop a tool for a wastewater pathogen tracking dashboard that shows the distribution of viruses in neighborhoods that will be available to public health agencies.”

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