Sewage Sludge Can Be an Early Warning of Coronavirus

Last year I wrote about how the testing of sewage sludge in Flint could shed light on the evolution of lead levels in its water. But it turns out that sewage sludge can do more: you can test the sludge for coronavirus too. A team of Yale researchers did this in New Haven and came up with this:

The red line shows the concentration of coronavirus in sewage sludge. The black line shows the number of new COVID-19 cases. It’s a perfect fit with a lag of about one week.

It’s not clear how useful this result is, but anything that gives an early warning of coronavirus infections allows public health officials a head start on countermeasures. It won’t stop the spike in cases, but it might reduce the length of the spike if countermeasures are put in place a week earlier than they otherwise would.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $200,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, this week so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate