National opinions on a wide variety of public health topics can change over time and have high contextual nuances. This study is a follow-up to prior inquiries into the knowledge of wastewater-based epidemiology, privacy concerns surrounding sample collection, and the use of data acquired, along with privacy awareness from an online survey conducted in the metropolitan United States during the winter of 2023. Mentions of wastewater-surveillance-related terms in the media remained common. Towards the outbreak tail in 2023, public support for surveillance of toxins (91%), diseases (91%), terrorist threats (87%), illicit drugs (70%), prescription medications (69%), and gun residue (60%) remained high. There was less support for surveillance of alcohol consumption (49%), mental illness (46%), healthy eating (37%), and lifestyle behaviors (35%). In terms of geographic scale, most respondents supported citywide surveillance (85%) with markedly lower levels of support for smaller (less anonymous) geographic scales covered by specific locations. Wastewater surveillance does not receive the public pushback that other COVID-19-related health system actors have witnessed. Instead, the public supports the expansion of wastewater surveillance as a standard to complement public health tools in other areas of health protection.

  • National opinions on public health topics can change over time.

  • Online survey conducted in the metropolitan United States during the winter of 2023.

  • 85% of respondents supported citywide wastewater surveillance.

  • High acceptance for the expansion of wastewater surveillance to toxins, diseases, and terrorist threats.

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Supplementary data