Testing Municipal Wastewater to Flexibly Monitor Health and Safety

Testing Municipal Wastewater to Flexibly Monitor Health and Safety

Published: Mar 25, 2020
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica
Key Findings

When combined with data on prescriptions filled at local pharmacies, drug overdose calls to emergency medical services, and drug seizures by law enforcement, wastewater testing can yield insights into:

  • the extent of black-market activity,
  • policing impact on community drug use, and
  • where and when drug overdoses might occur

Municipal wastewater testing is an innovative approach that can be used alongside national and local data sources to provide cost-effective and objective measures of drug use in near real-time. Mathematica has been working with public health, safety, and water monitoring officials in Montana, Wisconsin, and Tennessee to analyze:

  • Snapshots of the mix of drugs being used to provide a warning on new drug threats
  • Trends in drug use over time, which can be used to evaluate program effectiveness
  • Hotspots of drug use, which offers a data-driven strategy to target resources
  • The value of unbiased, scalable community health measures for policymaking

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