Wastewater and sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants represent an underutilized diagnostic matrix indicative of many population-wide conditions (e.g., exposure to hazardous substances/pollutants, disease prevalence, health and prosperity, and more). While there have been many genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies that show the importance of gene vs environment interactions, there is no clear data that shows that some communities are at higher risk for disease.
Researchers at the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University have developed a suite of technologies looking at wastewater-borne and sewage sludge-borne biomarkers that track at the population-wide level with disease prevalence, exposure, health, etc:
M23-033L assesses the prevalence of neurodegenerative disease in a population using epigenetic biomarkers found in wastewater and sewage sludge.
M23-033L also assesses the prevalence of colorectal cancer in a population using epigenetic biomarkers found in wastewater and sewage sludge.
M23-031L assesses human exposure to plasticizer and plastic monomers in a population by determining the concentration of certain analytes in wastewater and sewage sludge.
M23-032L tracks health and prosperity in a population by detecting the concentrations of certain analytes in wastewater and sewage sludge.
M23-043L is a biomarker panel for monitoring cardiovascular disease or cancer in a population by detecting certain biomarkers in urine and wastewater process flows.
M23-095L looks at measuring exposure of a population to volatile organic compounds (VOC) by detecting the concentrations of certain VOC analytes in wastewater process flows.
This suite of technologies represents novel tools to leverage wastewater to non-invasively and comprehensively generate population/community-level health assessments.
Wastewater based epidemiology to track or assess population-level prevalence or susceptibility:
Exposure to VOCs, plasticizer and plastic monomers
Human health and prosperity
Benefits and Advantages
Could be used to reduce or prevent incidence of disease
Widens the scope of cohort and case-controlled studies to identify population susceptibility to disease regionally
Provides near real-time data on population exposure to environmental toxins/substances to help protect vulnerable communities and mange public health locally
Inexpensive, non-invasive and comprehensive
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For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see