IIT Madras establishes new research centre for frequent wastewater analysis

IIT Madras’ International Centre for Clean Water is setting up a Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) research facility.

IIT Madras establishes new research centre for frequent wastewater analysis IIT Madras researchers (Source: Official Press Release)
Vagisha Kaushik | May 9, 2022 - 2:18 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras is setting up a new research centre which will test wastewater in a city for indicator organisms and chemicals and make the data open to the public. The research facility will act as an intelligence unit to track and prevent a virus outbreak in its early stages.

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IIT Madras’ International Centre for Clean Water (ICCW) is establishing this Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) research facility. The project is being supported with funding of 1 Million US Dollars by CryptoRelief, an initiative started by Sandeep Nailwal.

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The data received from various wastewater sources and treatment facilities will be analyzed and made available to the public through dashboards. Gradually, this facility will be extended to other parts of India, said an official statement from IIT Madras.

The WBE project includes features such as tracking pollutants, pesticides, licit and illicit drugs to which the population is exposed, said the statement.

Wastewater analysis

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, the IITM statement added.

Wastewater carries molecules that correlate to what people consume and how their health is changing. At an individual or household level, toilet waste can tell a lot about the user. For a city, the sewage gives information about the health of its inhabitants. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a way to understand this and may be considered as mining of chemical information from sewage, the statement further said.

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Highlighting the impact of this project, Professor T Pradeep, a Padma Shri Awardee and Professor-in-Charge, ICCW, IIT Madras, said, “Ensuring clean water for people needs a detailed understanding of wastewater. The ICCW team will work on building a hydro-informatics platform for the city with appropriate modelling tools to give spatiotemporal information of the data derived from WBE studies.”

Speaking about this project, Nailwal, Founder, CryptoRelief, said, “We intend to help the public, policymakers, practitioners and public health officials combat the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic through wastewater analysis.”

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