Human Biomonitoring (HBM) has been adopted as the main and more potent tool in monitoring programs and epidemiological studies for assessing exposure to chemicals and their effects in the population. However, novel methodologies are needed in order to track human exposure at population level, overcoming some of the existing HBM limitations, such as the long realization time, sampling biases (i.e. momentary snapshot of exposure and morning urine collection), high costs for sampling collection and analysis, complexity of data elaboration to extrapolate results to the whole population and ethical issues.
Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) is an alternative to HBM and innovative approach for the retrieval of epidemiological information from wastewater through the analysis of specific human metabolic excretion products (biomarkers). It can be described as a collective urine test, as the wastewater from a city pools the anonymous urine samples of thousands of individuals. This approach can provide objective, real-time information on substances directly or indirectly ingested by a population.