- Food, water, and sanitation insecurities: Complex linkages and implications for achieving WASH security , GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH (2021)
- Global Environmental Engineering for and with Historically Marginalized Communities , ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING SCIENCE (2021)
- Microbial Contamination in Environmental Waters of Rural and Agriculturally-Dominated Landscapes Following Hurricane Florence , ACS ES&T WATER (2021)
- Multiple water source use in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review , JOURNAL OF WATER AND HEALTH (2021)
- Poultry Ownership Associated with Increased Risk of Child Diarrhea: Cross-Sectional Evidence from Uganda , The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2020)
- Ruminant Fecal Contamination of Drinking Water Introduced Post-Collection in Rural Kenyan Households , INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH (2020)
- Search for Campylobacter spp. Reveals High Prevalence and Pronounced Genetic Diversity of Arcobacter butzleri in Floodwater Samples Associated with Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, USA , Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2020)
- The Occurrence of Escherichia coli in Groundwater of Bekasi City (Case Study: Jatiluhur, Sumur Batu, and Jatirangga Urban Villages) , 2020 2ND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT, RESOURCES AND ENERGY ENGINEERING (2020)
- Addressing how multiple household water sources and uses build water resilience and support sustainable development , NPJ CLEAN WATER (2019)
- Comparison of analytical techniques to explain variability in stored drinking water quality and microbial hand contamination of female caregivers in Tanzania , ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE-PROCESSES & IMPACTS (2019)
All livestock operations generate fecal waste and manure management is an essential aspect of pork production. Regulations mandate permitting, training, design specifications, soil testing and livestock operation stream vegetation buffers. As the scale of pork production has increased to meet consumer demand communities have heightened their concern about the environmental impact of pork operations. Pork producers are actively working to reduce their overall water usage, land use and the carbon foot-print of their farming operations. Responsible environmental farm management has become an inherent necessity to maintain the sustainability of the pork industry and pork producers in the US have affirmed their obligation to safeguard our natural resources and manage pork production operations in a manner that protects natural environments and public health. The proposed studies support environmental management of pork production and address community concerns by facilitating accurate detection and effective attribution of the origin of fecal waste in surface waters and groundwater.
TSA: Environmental Surveillance of Microbial Contaminants
Livestock operations generate fecal waste and manure management is an essential aspect of livestock production. Local and state regulations mandate permitting, training, design specifications, and stream vegetation buffers between livestock operations and surface waters. The scale of pork production has increased to meet consumer demand and as production facilities have grown, communities have heightened their concern about the environmental impact of pork operations. Pork producers have worked effectively to reduce their overall water usage, land use, and the carbon footprint of farming operations (National Pork Board, 2018, Thoma et al. 2011). Responsible environmental farm management has become a business necessity for pork producers in the US and producers have affirmed their obligation to manage pork production operations in a manner that protects natural ecosystems and public health. Watersheds, however, generally support multiple types of livestock operations and human dwellings. Each livestock enterprise and residential community is a potential source of fecal waste in surface waters. Fecal waste in surface waters is generally referred to as non-point source contamination. In reality, all fecal waste has a vertebrate animal origin and the species of origin varies with adjacent land-use practices. Monitoring programs established to protect public health have traditionally relied on the culture or detection of fecal coliforms, total coliforms or Enterococcus bacteria in water samples as indicators of fecal contamination in surface waters. These enteric organisms are non-specific indicators of the presence of fecal waste but do not attribute contamination to specific animal hosts. The detection of host-specific enteric organisms, such as Bacteroidales spp. and genetic assays focused on detecting these microbial species have been developed as alternatives to non-host specific indicator organism detection methods (Harwood et al. 2009). All vertebrates release cells from their gastrointestinal tract in their feces. These cells contain mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), a routine aspect of forensic investigation that can be applied to identify the animal hosts associated with fecal waste (Caldwell et al. 2007). The detection of mtDNA is highly host specific. If mtDNA is detected in a water sample, the vertebrate animal associated with that mtDNA can be determined. Initial studies, however, lacked sensitivity (Caldwell et al. 2009). When we initially developed and tested these assays, at times, fecal waste was present in a stream but not detected. In studies supported by the National Pork Board, we refined these initial mtDNA assays by adapting the use of new Droplet digital PCR technology (BioRad Inc., California, USA), which markedly enhanced the sensitivity of the assay for identifying the presence of host mtDNA in surface waters. New primers and probes were designed, and the assay proved both sensitive and specific. Our studies confirmed the presence of fecal contamination in Stockinghead Creek in Duplin County, NC and documented that the fecal contamination in the creek originates from at least four species, cattle, humans, poultry and swine. This proposal focuses on addressing concerns about the origin of fecal waste in surface waters in other North Carolina livestock intensive watersheds. Specific objectives include: 1) Attributing the source of fecal contamination in NC surface waters in Duplin and Sampson County, NC watersheds ; and 2) Responding to concerns about fecal contamination.
The Great Coharie River (AKA Great Coharie Creek) is a culturally and environmentally significant water body in Eastern North Carolina. The river has exhibited elevated levels of nutrients and microbial contamination, even after extreme flooding events, and community groups, particularly the Coharie Tribe, are eager to develop a more nuanced understanding of the temporal and spatial dynamics of contamination in the river to ensure human safety during cultural and recreational activities on the river. We propose to conduct high temporal resolution sampling at 4 sites along the river during different seasons and rainfall conditions. Water samples will be analyzed for nutrients, E. coli (fecal indicator bacteria) and source-specific molecular markers of fecal contamination (e.g., human, swine, and poultry). Forecast models will be develop to predict contamination with environmental covariates (e.g., temperature, rainfall, discharge). Working with Coharie Tribe leaders and other community members and applying insights from this research, we will support the development of long-term monitoring plans and decision-making tools for protecting and using the river.
North Carolina (NC) has launched the NC Wastewater Monitoring Network as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS). This system provides information on the presence and persistence of SARS-CoV-2-like viruses in wastewater systems as a metric of community COVID-19 prevalence. This approach provides a relatively low-cost way to measure both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infections in a community-wide sample. Wastewater surveillance can demonstrate trends in COVID-19 prevalence, direct action to protect public health, and allay concerns about the burden of disease when SARS-CoV-2 concentrations are low. The NC Wastewater Monitoring Network builds on an existing collaboration between NCDHHS and the NC Wastewater Pathogen Research Network (NC WW PATH) led by Dr. Rachel Noble in collaboration with University of North Carolina (UNC) system researchers including those from North Carolina State University, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, and East Carolina University. NC WW PATH has developed laboratory methods for measuring the SARS- CoV-2 virus in samples from wastewater treatment plant influent wastewater and primary solids and completed weekly sampling at 20 wastewater treatment plants representative of urban, semi-urban, and rural wastewater sources across nine counties in 2020. NC WW PATH continues to compare wastewater and solids concentrations with data from NCDHHS and other community prevalence studies while applying epidemiological and geospatial tools to develop statewide interactive mapping to better inform public health decisions.
Social scientists have turned to phenomenological, subjective measures of resource insecurity and have cogently demonstrated importance of water insecurity in predicting psycho-emotional and physical health outcomes (Hadley and Wutich 2009; Stevenson et al. 2012; Workman and Urkesoy 2017; Wutich 2006; Wutich and Ragsdale 2008). However, there remains a need to compare these experiential subjective measures with objective measures of water scarcity to better understand the predictive capacity of each and to fully understand the interrelationship between co-occurring stressors. This proposed research combines ethnographic methods with anthropometric assessments and quantitative measures of household water and food insecurity and community-level hydrological data. The objectives of this research are four-fold, Objective 1: ethnographically explore the lived experience of water insecurity in Morogoro, Tanzania, Objective 2: compare objective and subjective measures of water insecurity to understand how these factors predict psycho-emotional and physical health outcomes, Objective 3: assess syndemicity of water insecurity, Objective 4: synthesize political ecology and syndemic theory to expand our understanding and measurement of complex social phenomena.
The prevalence of antibiotic resistance (ABR) bacteria in the environment is alarming, and infections due to these organisms cause more than 2 million illnesses annually in the United States. Surface waters found to be the most common route for the spread of ABR E. coli to humans through recreational activities and irrigation. Extreme weather events (EWE) such as flooding from hurricanes and excessive precipitation preceding outbreaks of contaminants (including ABR E. coli) in receiving waters is a significant threat to human health. Limited work has assessed the impact of poultry CAFOs on microbial water quality in the watersheds of North Carolina and their relation to the presence of ABR bacteria. This study will examine the presence of ABR E .coli in the surface water of two counties (Duplin and Wayne) across the Cape Fear and Neuse River Basin, where the poultry and swine CAFOs are densely built and reported as vulnerable after EWEs. The hypothesis of the study is the prevalence of ABR E .coli in the downstream locations of poultry CAFOs is higher compared to the upstream or where there are no poultry CAFOs. The objective of the study is to identify the primary sources of ABR E .coli in the surface water that is vulnerable to human impact and the effects of climatic events such as rainfall. To accomplish the objective of the study, surface water samples will be collected at multiple sites across several time points surrounding a rainfall event. Samples will be tested for physical, chemical, and microbial water quality. IDEXX Colilert will be used to measure the coliforms and E. coli and ABR E. coli. Microbial source tracking (MST) markers of swine and poultry will be used to identify animal host of fecal contamination via droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), a promising technique that not only detects the targets but also quantifies them precisely in low range. This project will provide the opportunity of using the LA 35 (poultry-specific) fecal marker assay, an assay currently being validated in our lab. Moreover, the correlation among the MST and IDEXX results will provide insight that can inform a strategic plan for reducing health risks associated with surface water contamination.
Floods impact a series of interconnected urban systems (referred to in this project as the Urban Multiplex) that include the power grid and transportation networks, surface water and groundwater, sewerage and drinking water systems, inland navigation and dams, and other system, all of which are intertwined with the socioeconomic and public health sectors. This project uses a convergent approach to integrate these multiple interconnected systems and merges state-of-the-art practices in hydrologic and hydraulic engineering; systems analysis, optimization and control; machine learning, data and computer science; epidemiology; socioeconomics; and transportation and electrical engineering to develop an Urban Flood Open Knowledge Network (UF-OKN). The UF-OKN will be built by bringing together academic and non-academic researchers from engineering, computer science, social science, and economics. The UF-OKN is envisioned to empower decision makers and the general public by providing information not just on how much flooding may occur from a future event, but also to show the cascading impact of a flood event on natural and engineered infrastructure of an urban area, so that more effective planning and decision-making can occur.
North Carolina has been selected as one of eight pilot states in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS). This system will provide information on the presence and persistence of SARS-CoV-2-like viruses in wastewater systems as a metric of community COVID-19 prevalence. This approach provides a relatively low-cost way to measure both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infections without dependence on supply chains for clinical testing supplies or access to clinical testing. Wastewater surveillance can demonstrate trends in COVID-19 prevalence, direct action to protect public health, and allay concerns about the burden of disease when SARS-CoV-2 concentrations are low. NC State University will support this project by collecting, preparing, and shipping samples to the UNC laboratory (Rachel Noble, PI).
The last decade saw a series of catastrophic floods due to hurricanes and storms of increased intensity, and news headlines like Cities Swimming in Raw Sewage After Storm Expose Flaws in System became commonplace. These events exposed the fault lines in flood management. Perhaps more importantly, they also revealed the complex and interconnected nature of engineered, natural and social systems that form the fabric of modern cities. These systems can be conceptualized as a network of networks, or a multiplex, that includes the power grid and transportation network, surface water and groundwater, sewerage and drinking water systems, inland navigation and dams, intertwined with the socioeconomic and public health sectors. Under external pressures and improper management, failures propagating across the Urban Multiplex became obvious - as if viewed under a magnifying glass. Extreme weather is a primary driver of flooding. Its consequences however depend on the interconnectedness of the multiplex components that are, unfortunately, typically designed and/or analyzed independently of one another. For example, a power outage may lead to failure of a storm water network designed to carry the maximum flow during floods, resulting in raw sewage overflow into streets and exposing humans to pathogens. At the same time, storm water overflows could flood critical segments of road networks designed to meet traffic needs, preventing timely evacuation of vulnerable populations. Thus, it is impossible to effectively handle increasingly frequent urban floods by managing these components independently from one another, and ignoring the inherent interconnections of the urban multiplex. Rather, a convergent approach that integrates all interconnected systems and merges state-of-the-art in hydrological and hydraulic engineering; systems analysis, optimization and control; artificial intelligence, data and computer science; epidemiology; socioeconomics; transportation and electrical engineering is proposed in this research.