Jun 29, 2020

Massachusetts Sewage Analyzed for Coronavirus Surge

A wastewater lab is analyzing Massachusetts' sewage for the next coronavirus surge

waste water sewage

Massachusetts’ top wastewater agency is working with MIT to help catch a possible second wave of the coronavirus.

A Cambridge laboratory signed a $200,000 contract to analyze the wastewater of millions of Boston-area residents, according to the Boston Herald.

“If we can save some lives doing this, it’s well worth the time and effort,” said Massachusetts Water Resources Authority chief Fred Laskey to the Boston Herald.

The MIT-affiliated Cambridge lab Biobot signed a deal with MWRA to analyze sewage for the next six months.


According to the CDC, it takes two to 14 days for someone who catches COVID-19 to become symptomatic.

According to Laskey, this could show cases as much as a week before people start experiencing symptoms.

Boston’s Deer Island tanks hold the wastewater from about 3 million people in Boston and 42 of its surrounding cities and towns, which have about 40% to 45% of the cases in the state, according to Laskey’s estimates.

The six-month pilot will consist of the lab analyzing samples collected three times a week. The goal is to close in on where there are new outbreaks, for instance if there is an uptick north or south of the Charles River. 

The MWRA will work with state health authorities to help figure out where more resources need to go using this information, according to the Boston Herald.

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