Best Of 2021

Best Reason to Play with Poop: test Ohio’s sewage and wastewater treatment systems to determine the presence of coronavirus RNA fragments in, well, poo

This past summer, the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency teamed up with the U.S. EPA in Cincinnati and the Ohio Water Resources Center to test Ohio’s sewage and wastewater treatment systems to determine the presence of coronavirus RNA fragments in, well, poo. Fragments of coronavirus RNA can be found in the feces of both asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals infected with COVID-19. A study from the Scripps Research Translational Institute found that asymptomatic people have a similar viral load to those of symptomatic individuals, and up to 45% of infected individuals may be asymptomatic. According to a press release from the Ohio EPA, emerging science indicates that the virus can be detected in raw wastewater about three to seven days before there is a visible increase in cases and/or hospitalizations. So the data collected could provide an early warning of the virus’ spread in a community and indicate the level of spread.