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IIT Madras gets new research centre to analyse waste water, receives $1 million funding

The facility would act as an intelligence unit to track and prevent a virus outbreak in its early stages and gradually would be extended to other parts of the country.

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

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has established a new research centre to analyse wastewater in a city for indicating organisms and chemicals. This project has been supported with funding of $1 million by CryptoRelief, an initiative started by Sandeep Nailwal.

“We intend to help the public, policymakers, practitioners and public health officials combat the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic through wastewater analysis,” Sandeep Nailwal, founder CryptoRelief, said.

The Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) research facility is established by the International Centre for Clean Water (ICCW). The facility would act as an intelligence unit to track and prevent a virus outbreak in its early stages and gradually would be extended to other parts of the country.

The data obtained from various wastewater sources and treatment facilities will be analysed and made available to the public through dashboards.

“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,” professor T Pradeep, professor-in-charge, International Centre for Clean Water (ICCW), IIT Madras, said.

The benefits of wastewater analysis include water fingerprinting to study the chemical and biological molecules in it. The WBE project includes aspects such as tracking pollutants, pesticides, licit and illicit drugs to which the population is exposed.

This grant would help in advanced research and getting a foresight into the ever-evolving virus patterns whilst also giving us a chance to better prepare. Apart from SARS Cov-2, several other pathogens prevailing in a population can be detected through analysis of wastewater. Techniques for analysis include polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) and mass spectrometry (MS), combined with data analytics.

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