Yorkshire sewage tests offer COVID early detection hope
30 Oct 2020
Yorkshire Water is sampling sewage at 10 wastewater treatment works across the region as part of two projects to help identify potential new outbreaks of Covid-19.
The data collected will be used as part of studies conducted by the Defra and researchers at Sheffield University.
Sampling will help detect and quantify Covid-19 markers within the sewage treated by Yorkshire Water, as research recently indicated fragments of genetic material from the virus can be detected in wastewater.
Currently, wastewater treated at Yorkshire Water facilities in Hull, Knostrop, Esholt and Dewsbury is being tested as part of Defra’s project.
As part of the Sheffield University scheme samples are being taken at smaller sewage treatment works in the Sheffield area, including Lundwood, Wombwell Aldwarke, Blackburn Meadows, Woodhouse Mill, Old Whittington.
The results will be used to help researchers understand the presence of Covid-19 in the population, including those who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic.
James Harrison, head of wastewater asset management at Yorkshire Water, said: “We have rolled testing processes across 10 of our sites as part of these two projects. We are pleased to be playing a part in the earlier detection of Covid-19 outbreaks in the region and nationally.
“The samples will be tested for markers of Covid-19, which cannot cause infection but do indicate infection within the population. We are still in the early stages of the project, but the data has the potential to uncover new outbreaks before medical testing.