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Fields & Applications Environmental, Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, Liquid Chromatography

The Great Sewage Census

The first thing people ask when they hear that we analyze wastewater: “Why on earth would you pick that as your subject?” And, while the question is understandable, the answer is simple: to monitor health and protect the general public.

I was not the first to hit on the idea of studying sewage; people have monitored microbes in wastewater to study epidemics as far back as the 1950s, and European researchers have measured levels of illicit drugs across multiple cities since the early 2000s. Our primary contribution to this area has been expanding the study of wastewater into a platform for evaluating matters of public health. My story, however, did not start with sewage. It started with something even less pleasant…

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About the Author

Rolf Halden

Founding Director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering at the Biodesign Institute, Professor in the Ira A. Fulton School for Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, and senior sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, Tempe, USA.

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