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The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) has announced the start of construction on a wastewater monitoring lab in Abu Dhabi, which will analyse wastewater samples and issue early warnings to prevent the spread of infectious diseases or harmful substances, as well as to mitigate any negative environmental effects
The lab is being developed in collaboration with G42 Healthcare, a leading health-tech company based in Abu Dhabi, and set to be completed in 12 months. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health and the Environment Agency, among other entities, will be the main beneficiaries as the facility will be capable of testing for chemical, physical, and biological hazards, including infectious diseases (viruses/bacteria), parasites, pathogenic yeast and fungi, pharmaceutical compounds, and other lifestyle-related items – all with automated sampling and artificial-intelligence-powered data analysis.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy has made significant efforts to guarantee the quality of treated water and ensure it is free of any harmful substances, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where wastewater was examined for any traces of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19.
Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, chairman of the DoE, said, “Based on the success of the wastewater examination for traces of SARS-CoV-2 programme in 2020, the DoE launched the wastewater monitoring lab – a facility dedicated for such activities. Our objective is to protect the community at all times by developing systems to detect and curb threats to public health.”
“The lab can provide an early warning for potential contaminants and threats to public health and the environment,” the DoE Chairman explained. “But it can also be a powerful tool allowing us to detect other pathogens, harmful chemicals, or even banned substances. This, in turn, creates a solid foundation for decisions and programmes to be developed to combat any emerging threat,” he added.
Ashish Koshy, CEO, G42 Healthcare, said, “The wastewater analysis laboratory in Abu Dhabi will be the first of its kind in the MENA region, positioning Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a pioneer in this space and establishing a benchmark for future projects. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies to analyse wastewater samples for infectious agents and harmful chemicals, the application of artificial intelligence in this lab will enable an early warning system that will determine with high accuracy the origin of the outbreak or pollutant behaviour, detect the virus in locations with limited monitoring, and track the spread of a disease during an infectious outbreak.”
The lab project has outlined a list of objectives to be accomplished, including handling and processing emergency wastewater samples suspected of contamination with a harmful substance, as well as analysing samples suspected of contamination with a known or unknown substance.
The lab can then confirm or rule out the presence of contaminants, check for additional contaminants that may be of concern in the future, and report accurate results to inform potential intervention decisions. The facility will focus its efforts on harmful contaminants, such as radionuclides, biotoxins, pathogens, biological hazards, and high concentrations of industrial chemicals or illegal discharge.