Let’s share the knowledge

Through collaborative efforts with leading experts in the field we harness the power of wastewater analysis to support human health and  the environment

Knowledge in Action

The power of wastewater-based epidemiology is that one can obtain information about the overall lifestyle, health and sustainability of an entire population. The approach has been applied in numerous fields, such as monitoring illicit drug use, human exposure to environmental contaminants and monitoring the circulation of pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.

Illicit drugs monitoring – Best practice protocol

Studying illicit drug use is one of the oldest applications of wastewater-based epidemiology. The approach relies on the measurement of specific markers (i.e., illicit drugs or their urinary metabolites) in wastewater samples. This data can be used to estimate the amounts of illicit drugs used in a city.
SCORE has established a best practice protocol which provides guidance on sampling, sample handling, chemical analysis, back-calculation and data reporting. Much of this guidance is relevant also for other applications described below.
Publication A: Evaluation of uncertainties
Publication B: Assessing illicit drugs in wastewater
Photo: KWR, Nieuwegein NL


One of the great advantages of wastewater-based epidemiology is that it is non-invasive and anonymous. It allows researchers to collect information on the entire population rather than focusing on individuals. Society can be studied as a whole.
To promote anonymity and further encourage privacy-protection SCORE has collaborated on ethical guidelines for wastewater-based epidemiology.
Publication A: SCORE’s ethical guidelines
Publication B: Development of ethical guidelines for WBE


The amounts and types of pharmaceuticals and medication used by a city can be investigated. If compared to available prescription data, results from wastewater analysis can help determine compliance. Are prescribed antibiotics being used as expected? Are more opioids being used than are legally prescribed?
Publication A: Biomarkers in wastewater as source of information
Publication B: Antibiotics and resistance genese in wastewater

Exposure to environmental and food contaminants

What pesticides are in my food? Is my drinking water contaminated? What pollutants are my children exposed to? These are just some of the questions that can be investigated with data from wastewater.
Humans are constantly exposed to a broad range of chemicals which can have negative impacts on human health. Wastewater can provide valuable information because traces of everything we eat and drink is washed down the sewer.
Publication A: Exposure to pesticides
Publication B: Exposure to flame retardants

Population size

How many people commute to work in my city? What time to people wake up in the morning? The size of a population can vary over time due seasonal fluctuations (e.g., holidays), special events, or due to long-term societal change.
Various strategies have been used to monitor population dynamics. Data from wastewater can be useful here too.
Publication A: Mobile phone data and other markers
Publication B: Online ammonium monitoring

Infectious diseases

Wastewater was a critically important data source in the fight against COVID19. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) or next generation sequencing (NGS) can be used to track human pathogens in wastewater. This information can be used to determine if a certain pathogen is present in a community, if its levels are increasing (or decreasing) and, combined with other epidemiological data, can help better understand its circulation in the population.

This approach is not unique to  the COVID19 virus. It can be used for potentially any pathogen which is eliminated through faeces and/or urine. This approach has been used to monitor the circulation of other viruses, such as the poliovirus, and also to assess antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Publication A: Wastewater surveillance database for SARS-CoV-2
Publication B: Wastewater and the fight against COVID-19

Want to participate?

We are always looking for partners willing to participate and to contribute to the SCORE network.