Special Report: The Potential of Wastewater Testing for Public Health and Safety

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Aug 14, 2017
Aparna Keshaviah, Editor
  • Wastewater testing provides a cost-effective means to assess population health, exposure to emerging substances, program and policy effects, and geographic hotspots of activity.
  • Wastewater-based research addresses existing data inadequacies by providing in near-real time spatially granular data that are collected in an experimental manner.
  • To encourage adoption of the methodology across the United States, more evidence is needed on the policy value of wastewater testing, its benefit-cost ratio, and specific data gaps it can fill.

This report synthesizes research and recommendations from Mathematica’s symposium on “The Potential of Wastewater Testing for Public Health and Safety,” convened in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2017. The symposium included a heterogeneous panel of experts examining opioid and substance abuse through the lens of public health, public safety, and environmental issues. The meeting was designed to bridge organizational silos in order to (1) develop a common awareness of wastewater testing among entities involved in opioid policy; (2) identify knowledge gaps hampering decision making; (3) ascertain barriers to adopting wastewater testing; and (4) determine how to advance the methodology to meet current needs. Funding for this work was provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.