Battelle Wins NSF Funding to Track Viruses in Wastewater

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 17, 2020)—A Battelle team of researchers will test wastewater in Toledo for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as other viral pathogens that will help pinpoint specific neighborhoods that are hotspots for viral outbreaks.

The funding, provided by the National Science Foundation, is part of the COVID-19 rapid response program and the pilot test will last for a year. Battelle has contracted Great Lakes Environmental Center to perform 24-hour automatic wastewater sampling at specific manhole locations around the city.

The Battelle team will test those samples for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other pathogens. “This should give us a reflection of what’s going on in specific neighborhoods,” said Battelle Principal Research Scientist Rachel Spurbeck, one of the leaders of the project. “It will give us granularity about where infection hotspots are in the city.”

If the project works as anticipated, it can be expanded to multiple locations in other cities.

“It won’t just be descriptive,” said Spurbeck. “It will help us develop a tool for a wastewater pathogen tracking dashboard that shows the distribution of viruses in neighborhoods that will be available to public health agencies.”

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Jun 17, 2020


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