n July 21, 2022, 60 members and guests of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Hawaii, American Water Works Association (AWWA) Hawaii Section, and HWEA gathered for a joint luncheon. The attendees listened to a presentation by Dr. Tao Yan on Tracking COVID-19 Transmission Dynamics and Variant Development via Wastewater Surveillance.
The presentation explained how the wastewater microbiome includes traces of infectious diseases and highlighted the potential advantages of using wastewater surveillance instead of a clinical approach. The idea of wastewater surveillance has been tested dating back to the 1950’s, with more recent studies for diseases such as polio, hepatitis and salmonella. Tests have improved with advancements in technology.
Dr. Yan and his team investigated wastewater surveillance of COVID-19 infections in 2020. Their research included testing wastewater samples from Honouliuli and Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plants. The results showed corresponding trends of wastewater concentration decrease with clinical case number decreases. Furthermore, the wastewater surveillance detected variants before they were even detected in Hawaii’s health clinics. The ongoing work includes further increasing the method sensitivity.
Mahalo to Dr. Yan for the presentation and your research!
Dr. Tao Yan is a professor at the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He received his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and his Master and Bachelor degrees in Environmental Engineering from Tsinghua University and Wuhan University of Technology, respectively. His research focuses on the health risks of water contamination. He is also interested in the interaction between the microbiome of water systems, infrastructure sustainability, and human health.