Tracking harmful chemicals and pathogens using the Human Health Observatory at ASU


Sewerage systems of villages, townships, cities and megacities convey the urine, stool, blood, and sputum of community members, enabling through analysis of community wastewater, a near real-time assessment of population health status and of emerging public health threats. Signature compounds and biomarkers targeted analytically for surveillance may include chemical and biological threat agents, transformation products of the same, human metabolites, biomarkers of exposure and other markers of interest. Additional information can be gleaned by analyzing, in a similar fashion, municipal sewage sludge resulting from wastewater treatment, a material that during treatment becomes enriched in persistent, hydrophobic and potentially bioaccumulative pollutants, while more biodegradable compounds are converted to methane mostly. When taken together, these multi-dimensional data sources promise to yield critical information on the health status, sustainability and resilience of rural and urban human populations in a new scientific approach termed population metabolism metrology, or for city environments, urban metabolism metrology.

Objective: To highlight the new science of population and urban metabolism metrology, for characterizing human exposures to biological agents, narcotics, antimicrobials and other contaminants of emerging concern using community wastewater as a diagnostic matrix.

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Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

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