Human Health Observatory

We measure contaminants in urban wastewater and optimize success in real-time using innovative public health dashboards.



The goal of the Human Health Observatory (HHO) is to improve public health nationally and globally. We perform innovative analyses of the urban water cycle to reveal the health status of human populations in real time, relying on the diagnostic information contained in water, wastewater and sewage sludge. We (i) analyze samples from cities worldwide, (ii) identify health threats, and (iii) assist partnering communities with selecting, implementing, and monitoring the effectiveness of, appropriate public health interventions. We provide real-time public health data at the community level based on the analysis of composited, anonymized, urban wastewater. We are engaged in long-term, U.S. national monitoring (starting in 2001) and real-time, community-specific monitoring within a growing network of over 220+ cities and community partners worldwide. Our efforts are funded by sponsored research projects and by fee-for-service analyses provided by our non-profit service facilities, such as the Biodesign CES Mass Spectrometry Facility.

In the U.S., we track chemical consumption of and human exposure to harmful chemicals in over 160 cities, representative of over 32 million people or about 10% of the U.S. population. By leveraging an immense, historical archive of samples, we track environmental releases of and human exposure to toxic chemicals in time and space. We apply proven medical diagnostics to community wastewater to offer city-scale solutions for public health protection. Cities are our patients. We aim to prevent disesases and epidemics before they can strike.



Sample and Collaborator Locations