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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 19, 2023
  2. Analysis of municipal wastewater, or sewage for public health applications is a rapidly expanding field aimed at understanding emerging epidemiological trends, including human and disease migration. The newly gained ability to extract and analyze genetic material from wastewater poses important societal and ethical questions, including: How to safeguard data? Who owns genetic data recovered from wastewater? What are the ethical and legal issues surrounding its use? In the U.S., both corporate and legal policies regarding privacy have been historically reactive instead of proactive. In wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), the pace of innovation has outpaced the ability of social and legal mechanisms to keep up. To address this discrepancy, early and robust discussions of the research, policies, and ethics surrounding WBE analysis and genetics is needed. This paper contributes to this discussion by examining ownership issues for human genetic data recovered from wastewater and the uses to which it may be put. We focus particularly on the risks associated with personally identifiable data, highlighting potential risks, relevant privacy-enhancing technologies, and appropriate ethics. The paper proposes an approach for people conducting WBE studies to help them systematically consider the ethical and privacy implications of their work.
  3. We describe the complete capsid of a genotype C1-like Enterovirus A71 variant recovered from wastewater in a neighborhood in the greater Tempe, Arizona area (Southwest United States) in May 2020 using a pan-enterovirus amplicon-based high-throughput sequencing strategy. The variant seems to have been circulating for over two years, but its sequence has not been documented in that period. As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has resulted in changes in health-seeking behavior and overwhelmed pathogen diagnostics, our findings highlight the importance of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE ) as an early warning system for virus surveillance.
  4. null (Ed.)
    SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection in wastewater is being rapidly developed and adopted as a public health monitoring tool worldwide. With wastewater surveillance programs being implemented across many different scales and by many different stakeholders, it is critical that data collected and shared are accompanied by an appropriate minimal amount of meta-information to enable meaningful interpretation and use of this new information source and intercomparison across datasets. While some databases are being developed for specific surveillance programs locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, common globally-adopted data standards have not yet been established within the research community. Establishing such standards will require national and international consensus on what meta-information should accompany SARS-CoV-2 wastewater measurements. To establish a recommendation on minimum information to accompany reporting of SARS-CoV-2 occurrence in wastewater for the research community, the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Coordination Network on Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 hosted a workshop in February 2021 with participants from academia, government agencies, private companies, wastewater utilities, public health laboratories, and research institutes. This report presents the primary two outcomes of the workshop: (i) a recommendation on the set of minimum meta-information that is needed to confidently interpret wastewater SARS-CoV-2 data, and (ii) insights from workshop discussionsmore »on how to improve standardization of data reporting.« less