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Water Quality Research Journal Special Issue on

 Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE): Benefits, Knowns and Unknowns, & Future Research Directions




Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has long been used to help inform broader infectious disease surveillance and mitigation efforts, such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.  More recently, global projects were developed with the purpose to explore the potential of using sewage for continuous monitoring of chemicals of emerging concern (CEC), drugs, and anti-microbial resistance (AMR). Currently, WBE surveillance is being undertaken to generate a complementary information source to help inform COVID-19 control strategies worldwide.

Furthermore, wastewater surveillance of pathogens may be a useful tool to help determine whether clinical surveillance of disease is effective or inadequate due to under-reporting and under-detection. Additionally, tracking of pathogen concentrations over time could potentially provide a measure of the effectiveness of public health control measures and the impact of the gradual relaxation of these controls. Indeed, analysis of wastewater using quantitative molecular methods offers a real-time measure of infections in the community, and thus is expected to provide a more sensitive and rapid indication of changes in infection rates before such effects become detectable by clinical health surveillance. In addition, models may help to back-calculate wastewater prevalence to population prevalence or to correct trends in pathogen counts for wastewater catchment-specific and temporal effects. They may also help to design the wastewater sampling strategy.

Hence, the editors of the Water Quality Research Journal (WQRJ) invite researchers across the globe to submit their manuscripts to this Special Issue covering following topics:

  • Application of WBE for environmental surveillance of microorganisms and chemicals of concern, including (but not limited to) COVID-19 virus and AMR, drugs, and CEC
  • Using chemicals as markers in WBE to relate concentrations of these “waste” materials in wastewater influent streams to population scale, use, consumption, or rates of exposure, and in some limited cases as proxies for health
  • Enhanced representative sampling and analytical methods (e.g. recovery, spiking of internal standards)
  • Exploring WBE modelling and back-calculation, dealing with issues regarding effects of conditions in the sewer on decay of the signal, uncertainties in shedding rates, and importance of pharmacokinetics in WBE for CEC or illicit drugs

Key dates

Deadline for manuscript submission: End of June 2021

Expected publication: Late 2021

Special Issue editors:

Arash Zamyadi1&2, Peter A. Vanrolleghem3, Jochen Mueller4

1 Water Research Australia (WaterRA), Adelaide, SA & Melbourne, VIC, Australia

2 Water Research Centre, School of Civil and Environment Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, NSW, Australia

3 modelEAU, Université Laval, Québec City, QC, Canada

4 Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia


Information for submission:

Please make sure that your paper follows the Instructions to Authors, before submitting your paper directly to WQRJ’s peer review system: choosing the Article Type “Special Issue Article” and the Category “Wastewater Based Epidemiology Special Issue”.

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