Kerry N. McPhedran


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A wastewater-based risk index for SARS-CoV-2 infections among three cities on the Canadian Prairie
Mohsen Asadi, Femi Francis Oloye, Yuwei Xie, Jenna Cantin, Jonathan K. Challis, Kerry N. McPhedran, Warsame Yusuf, David Champredon, Ximing Pu, Chantel De Lange, Seba El-Baroudy, Mark R. Servos, Paul D. Jones, John P. Giesy, Markus Brinkmann
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 876

Wastewater surveillance (WWS) is useful to better understand the spreading of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in communities, which can help design and implement suitable mitigation measures. The main objective of this study was to develop the Wastewater Viral Load Risk Index (WWVLRI) for three Saskatchewan cities to offer a simple metric to interpret WWS. The index was developed by considering relationships between reproduction number, clinical data, daily per capita concentrations of virus particles in wastewater, and weekly viral load change rate. Trends of daily per capita concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater for Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and North Battleford were similar during the pandemic, suggesting that per capita viral load can be useful to quantitatively compare wastewater signals among cities and develop an effective and comprehensible WWVLRI. The effective reproduction number (Rt) and the daily per capita efficiency adjusted viral load thresholds of 85 × 106 and 200 × 106 N2 gene counts (gc)/population day (pd) were determined. These values with rates of change were used to categorize the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks and subsequent declines. The weekly average was considered 'low risk' when the per capita viral load was 85 × 106 N2 gc/pd. A 'medium risk' occurs when the per capita copies were between 85 × 106 and 200 × 106 N2 gc/pd. with a rate of change <100 %. The start of an outbreak is indicated by a 'medium-high' risk classification when the week-over-week rate of change was >100 %, and the absolute magnitude of concentrations of viral particles was >85 × 106 N2 gc/pd. Lastly, a 'high risk' occurs when the viral load exceeds 200 × 106 N2 gc/pd. This methodology provides a valuable resource for decision-makers and health authorities, specifically given the limitation of COVID-19 surveillance based on clinical data.

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Understanding common population markers for SARS-CoV-2 RNA normalization in wastewater – A review
Femi Francis Oloye, Yuwei Xie, Jonathan K. Challis, Oluwabunmi P. Femi-Oloye, Markus Brinkmann, Kerry N. McPhedran, Paul D. Jones, Mark R. Servos, John P. Giesy
Chemosphere, Volume 333

Wastewater monitoring and epidemiology have seen renewed interest during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, there is an increasing need to normalize wastewater-derived viral loads in local populations. Chemical tracers, both exogenous and endogenous compounds, have proven to be more stable and reliable for normalization than biological indicators. However, differing instrumentation and extraction methods can make it difficult to compare results. This review examines current extraction and quantification methods for ten common population indicators: creatinine, coprostanol, nicotine, cotinine, sucralose, acesulfame, androstenedione 5-hydroindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), caffeine, and 1,7-dimethyluric acid. Some wastewater parameters such as ammonia, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and daily flowrate were also evaluated. The analytical methods included direct injection, dilute and shoot, liquid/liquid, and solid phase extraction (SPE). Creatine, acesulfame, nicotine, 5-HIAA and androstenedione have been analysed by direct injection into LC-MS; however, most authors prefer to include SPE steps to avoid matrix effects. Both LC-MS and GC-MS have been successfully used to quantify coprostanol in wastewater, and the other selected indicators have been quantified successfully with LC-MS. Acidification to stabilize the sample before freezing to maintain the integrity of samples has been reported to be beneficial. However, there are arguments both for and against working at acidic pHs. Wastewater parameters mentioned earlier are quick and easy to quantify, but the data does not always represent the human population effectively. A preference for population indicators originating solely from humans is apparent. This review summarises methods employed for chemical indicators in wastewater, provides a basis for choosing an appropriate extraction and analysis method, and highlights the utility of accurate chemical tracer data for wastewater-based epidemiology.


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RNA in Municipal Wastewater Reveals Magnitudes of COVID-19 Outbreaks across Four Waves Driven by SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern
Yuwei Xie, Jonathan K. Challis, Femi Francis Oloye, Mohsen Asadi, Jenna Cantin, Markus Brinkmann, Kerry N. McPhedran, Natacha S. Hogan, Mike Sadowski, Paul D. Jones, Chrystal Landgraff, Chand S. Mangat, Mark R. Servos, John P. Giesy
ACS ES&T Water, Volume 2, Issue 11

There are no standardized protocols for quantifying severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in wastewater to date, especially for population normalization. Here, a pipeline was developed, applied, and assessed to quantify SARS-CoV-2 and key variants of concern (VOCs) RNA in wastewater at Saskatoon, Canada. Normalization approaches using recovery ratio and extraction efficiency, wastewater parameters, or population indicators were assessed by comparing to daily numbers of new cases. Viral load was positively correlated with daily new cases reported in the sewershed. Wastewater surveillance (WS) had a lead time of approximately 7 days, which indicated surges in the number of new cases. WS revealed the variant α and δ driving the third and fourth wave, respectively. The adjustment with the recovery ratio and extraction efficiency improved the correlation between viral load and daily new cases. Normalization of viral concentration to concentrations of the artificial sweetener acesulfame K improved the trend of viral load during the Christmas and New Year holidays when populations were dynamic and variable. Acesulfame K performed better than pepper mild mottle virus, creatinine, and ammonia for population normalization. Hence, quality controls to characterize recovery ratios and extraction efficiencies and population normalization with acesulfame are promising for precise WS programs supporting decision-making in public health.

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Rapid transition between SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern Delta and Omicron detected by monitoring municipal wastewater from three Canadian cities
Femi Francis Oloye, Yuwei Xie, Mohsen Asadi, Jenna Cantin, Jonathan K. Challis, Markus Brinkmann, Kerry N. McPhedran, Kevin Kristian, Mark P. Keller, Mike Sadowski, Paul D. Jones, Chrystal Landgraff, Chand S. Mangat, Meghan Fuzzen, Mark R. Servos, John P. Giesy
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 841

Monitoring the communal incidence of COVID-19 is important for both government and residents of an area to make informed decisions. However, continuous reliance on one means of monitoring might not be accurate because of biases introduced by government policies or behaviours of residents. Wastewater surveillance was employed to monitor concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in raw influent wastewater from wastewater treatment plants serving three Canadian Prairie cities with different population sizes. Data obtained from wastewater are not directly influenced by government regulations or behaviours of individuals. The means of three weekly samples collected using 24 h composite auto-samplers were determined. Viral loads were determined by RT-qPCR, and whole-genome sequencing was used to charaterize variants of concern (VOC). The dominant VOCs in the three cities were the same but with different proportions of sub-lineages. Sub-lineages of Delta were AY.12, AY.25, AY.27 and AY.93 in 2021, while the major sub-lineage of Omicron was BA.1 in January 2022, and BA.2 subsequently became a trace-level sub-variant then the predominant VOC. When each VOC was first detected varied among cities; However, Saskatoon, with the largest population, was always the first to present new VOCs. Viral loads varied among cities, but there was no direct correlation with population size, possibly because of differences in flow regimes. Population is one of the factors that affects trends in onset and development of local outbreaks during the pandemic. This might be due to demography or the fact that larger populations had greater potential for inter- and intra-country migration. Hence, wastewater surveillance data from larger cities can typically be used to indicate what to expect in smaller communities.


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Co-design of water services and infrastructure for Indigenous Canada: A scoping review
Lori Bradford, Tim Vogel, Karl‐Erich Lindenschmidt, Kerry N. McPhedran, Graham Strickert, Terrance A. Fonstad, Lalita Bharadwaj
FACETS, Volume 3, Issue 1

There is movement in engineering fields and in Indigenous communities for enhancement of local participation in the design of community infrastructure. Inclusion of community priorities and unique cultural, spiritual, and traditional values harmonize the appearance, location, and functionality of developments with the social and cultural context in which they are built and contribute to holistic wellness. However, co-design processes that align community values and the technical needs of water facilities are difficult to find. A scoping review was conducted to explore the state of knowledge on co-design of water infrastructure in Indigenous Canada to build a knowledge base from which practices and processes could emerge. The scoping results revealed that articles and reports emerged only in recent years, contained case studies and meta-reviews with primary (qualitative) data, and involved community members in various capacities. Overall, 13 articles were reviewed that contributed to understanding co-design for water infrastructure in Indigenous Canada. Barriers to co-design included funding models for Indigenous community infrastructure, difficulties in engineers and designers understanding Indigenous worldviews and paradigms, and a lack of cooperation among stakeholders that contribute to ongoing design failures. A working definition of co-design for Indigenous water infrastructure is presented.