Wastewater Analysis

Wastewater Analysis

Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 in wastewaters

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a competent and effective approach for tracking information on spatial distribution and temporal trends of biological and chemical agents at the community level. WBE involves quantitative analysis of excreted biomarkers in population pooled wastewater samples collected at or upstream of the influent to a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Measured loads are converted into information on exposure, use or spread of agents in the monitored community providing an un-biased reflection of key aspects of public health.

In the current pandemic of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the potential use of environmental surveillance in detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) circulation in communities has repeatedly been demonstrated (see COVID-19 WBE Publication Map).

The strengths of wastewater surveillance can be summarized as follows:

  1. Infected individuals, including symptomatic, presymptomatic, paucisymptomatic, and asymptomatic carriers, contribute to the total load of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewaters by shedding viruses or their RNA in stool, urine, or respiratory secretions.
  2. Wastewater is a pooled sample providing information on virus circulation in the whole community served by the WWTP.
  3. WBE provides information on spatial and temporal trends.
  4. As infected individuals may shed the virus in stool before they develop symptoms, wastewater signals precede the rise and fall of prevalences, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.
  5. WBE is more inexpensive and less resource intensive than diagnostic testing of individuals at a large scale. Accordingly, wastewater surveillance may complement other well-established techniques for COVID-19 surveillance, such as clinical-based surveillance, hospital admission data, and mortality and morbidity rates.

In May 2020, we have got involved in the development, implementation and operation of SARS-CoV-2 monitoring programs. Such programs were successfully established in Tyrol and Salzburg.

Scientific studies

The following publications provide examples for the successful application of our analytical expertise to scientific studies:

  1. Lundy, L., Kassinos, D. F., Slobodnik, J., Karaolia, P., Cirka, L., Kreuzinger, N., Castiglioni, N., Bijlsma, L., Dulio, V., Deviller, G., Lai, F. Y., Barneo, M., Baz-Lomba, J. A., Béen, F., Cíchová, M., Conde, K., Covaci, A., Donner, E., Ficek, A., Hassard, F., Hedström, A., Hernandez, F., Janská, V., Hill, K., Hofman, J., Hong, P.-Y., Kasprzyk-Hordern, B., Kolarević, S., Krahulec, J., Lambropoulou, D., de Llanos, R., Mackuľak, T., Martinez-García, L., Martínez, F., Medema, G., Micsinai, A., Myrmel, M., Nozal, L., Nasser, M., Niederstaetter, H., Oberacher, H., Očenášková, V., Ogorzaly, L., Peinado, B., Pitkänen, T., Papadopoulos, D., Dominguez M. P., Rumbo-Feal, S., Sánchez, M. B., Székely, A., Soltysova, A., Vallejo, J., van Nuijs, A., Viklander, M. Making Waves: Collaboration in the Time of SARS-CoV-2 - Rapid Development of an International Co-Operation and Wastewater Surveillance Database to Support Public Health Decision-Making Water Research, 199 (2021), 117167.
  2. Oberacher, H., Niederstätter, H., Daleiden, B., Steinlechner, M., Scheithauer, R., Wildt, S., Kaiser, M., Juhasz, P., Unterweger, A., Rauchlattner, P. Surveillance and Monitoring von COVID-19 mittels Abwasseranalysen Kanal- und Kläranalagennachbarschaften, ÖWAV, 2021.
  3. Oberacher, H., Rauchlatner, P. Abwasser als Spiegel der Gesellschaft – Nachweis von Corona-Viren im Abwasser Wasserland Steiermark, 1/2021.
  4. World Health Organisation Expert Consultation on Public Health Needs Related to Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater Summary report of a virtual meeting, November 2020.