Jul 09, 2020

Researchers Test Wastewater for Coronavirus Detection

Nebraska researchers are partnering with Lincoln Wastewater for early coronavirus detection


Researchers from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln have launched projects using wastewater samples.

The projects are for early detection of COVID-19 (coronavirus). This will be done with assistance from the Lincoln Wastewater System.

The team will assess how community-level contextual factors and local policy measures relate to levels of coronavirus in the wastewater samples over time, according to KOLN

“Studies have shown that levels of coronavirus in municipal wastewater can correspond with the spread of COVID-19 in a community,” said Xu Li, an environmental engineering professor at Nebraska who is co-leading one of the projects. “We hope to quantify the coronavirus levels in the wastewater from six regions within Lincoln to see if we can detect such a correlation.”

Megan Kelley, an assistant professor of nutrition and health sciences at Nebraska, will co-lead the project. Wastewater samples were collected weekly from Lincoln, Grand Island and Omaha in early April.

Bartelt-Hunt said the team will be able to compare the samples taken during the past three months to the progression of the disease in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island, reported KOLN. According to the team, it is a predictive tool. 

“Access to clean water, proper handling of wastewater and many more everyday services is key to maintaining Lincoln’s quality of life,” she said. “To provide opportunities for these researchers to collect wastewater samples during the pandemic and see the importance of how this data can assist all of us with making data-driven decisions is just one-way LTU keeps our community safe.”

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