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IIT Madras gets new research centre for frequent wastewater analysis

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Facility to act as an intelligence unit to track and prevent a virus outbreak in its early stages

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras is establishing a new research centre that will test wastewater in a city for indicator organisms and chemicals, and make the data available to the public. The facility will act as an intelligence unit to track and prevent a virus outbreak in its early stages.

The International Centre for Clean Water (ICCW) is establishing this Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) research facility and the project is supported with funding of $1 million by CryptoRelief, an initiative started by Sandeep Nailwal.

The data obtained from various wastewater sources and treatment facilities will be analysed and made available to the public through dashboards. Gradually, this facility will be extended to other parts of India, said a release from IIT Madras.

Crypto Relief is the result of the global crypto community mobilising to help India combat the Covid crisis, and to help it prepare for future outbreaks, the release added.

Benefits

The benefits of wastewater analysis include water fingerprinting to study the chemical and biological molecules in it. The WBE project includes aspects such as tracking pollutants, pesticides, licit and illicit drugs to which the population is exposed, the release said.

T Pradeep, Professor-in-Charge, ICCW, IIT Madras, said that the ICCW team will work on building a hydro-informatics platform for the city with appropriate modelling tools to give spatiotemporal information on the data derived from WBE studies.

Detecting emerging issues

The WBE will also be employed to detect the emerging issues of concern, such as increasing antimicrobial resistance due to excessive consumption of antibiotics. Identifying the right policies to control pharmaceuticals and personal care products will be of great value in improving public health.

According to Sandeep Nailwal, “We intend to help the public, policymakers, practitioners and public health officials combat the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic through wastewater analysis.”

Published on May 09, 2022

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