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Alexandria Boehm: Wastewater helps reveal COVID’s real reach

Municipal wastewater is proving to be one of the best ways to measure the true scale of diseases in our communities.
Photo of a modern urban wastewater treatment plant.
Wastewater treatment plants have always been critical for safely processing sewage, but they can help in other ways too. | iStock/arhendrix

Civil and environmental engineer Alexandria Boehm joins Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast to discuss how a new form of epidemiology is using the tools of engineering to test wastewater to track COVID-19’s true spread.

The wastewater that enters a treatment facility is really just one big biological sample, Boehm says. Testing it is far more accurate than COVID-19 case data, and it is useful for tracking other diseases in our communities, as well. Listen in to this episode of The Future of Everything, as Boehm and host Russ Altman explore the great promise of wastewater epidemiology.

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