Critical Review

A&WMA's 116th Annual Conference & Exhibition: Smart Growth: Balancing Development, Restoration, and Resiliency, June 5-8, 2023, Orlando, FL

The 53rd Annual A&WMA Critical Review

Thursday, June 8, 8:00 am - 10:00 am, Florida B

Environmental Sampling for Disease Surveillance: Recent Advances and Recommendations for Best Practice

Authors: Joshua L. Santarpia, Elizabeth Klug, Ashley Ravnholdt, and Sean M. Kinahan, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Joshua Santarpia Headshot
About the Lead Author: Dr. Joshua L. Santarpia is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Pathology and Program Director for Biodefense and Health Security Degree Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). He is also the Science and Technology Advisor for the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska. He completed his graduate studies at Texas A&M University and has held past positions at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and immediately prior to joining UNMC was a distinguished staff member at the Sandia National Laboratories. His work is generally in the field of aerobiology, the study of airborne microorganisms. He has worked extensively on biological sensors, building and facility sensing networks, and has developed aerosol measurement tools, including those for unmanned aerial vehicles and for biodetection/collection activities for both the U.S. Department of Defense a (DOD) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He has worked extensively to understand optical and other signatures that can be used to detect and identify biological aerosol and studied how those signatures change over time. He has developed novel methods to study bioaerosol hazards in medical environments. Most recently, he has applied these methods to characterizing SARS-CoV-2 aerosol in the patient environment and characterizing aerosol risk in public spaces.
Dr. Santarpia is trained in aerosol physics, atmospheric chemistry, and microbiology. His peer reviewed research focuses largely on the fate biological aerosols in the atmosphere, detection of biological aerosols, and atmospheric chemistry of biological and anthropogenic particles. He has contributed to several books on the characterization and measurement of biological aerosols in the environment. The publications from his work on SARS-CoV-2 aerosol in the clinical environment are in the top 5% of all articles ever tracked in Altmetric, and have hundreds of citations. His work on COVID-19 has been featured in television, radio and print media, including NPR, NBC, The New York Times, The Atlantic Magazine, and National Geographic.
In the 53rd Annual A&WMA Critical Review, Dr. Santarpia and colleagues will examine the topic of environmental sampling for disease surveillance. Environmental sampling has been used throughout the recent COVID-19 pandemic to identify the route of transmission, identify emerging outbreaks, and characterize contamination in a variety of environments. Although this has been given recent attention, it has been used for many decades for a variety of purposes, from biodefense and remediation to the characterization of other infectious diseases. A wide variety of technologies and approaches have been used to accomplish these goals. Individually, each approach can provide valuable information, and combinations of approaches are often necessary to provide more complete risk assessments. In this review, the authors will provide historical background on environmental characterization of infectious contamination leading up to the ongoing work around the COVID-19 pandemic, and other current outbreaks. Individual approaches used for environmental sampling, focusing primarily on air, surface and wastewater will be included and discussed. Recommendations will be made for best practices, including individual techniques and combinations of approaches, based on the intent of the sampling.

The full-length paper will appear in the June 2023 issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (JA&WMA) and its conclusions will be presented live as part of the 2023 A&WMA Annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, FL. Following the review presentation, a panel of invited experts will critique the presentation and offer their own views on the topic. Invited discussants will represent key stakeholder groups, including federal and state agencies; researchers; NGOs; and community action groups. Comments also will be solicited from the floor during a live question-and-answer sequence to end the session. To complete the review process, the Critical Review Committee Chair will synthesize all of the discussion points into a single Discussion Paper that will be published in the October 2023 issue of JA&WMA.
Invited discussants will offer different perspectives on the Review and will be asked to identify additional issues and offer alternative commentary based on their scientific expertise. Confirmed discussants include: 

Gary Casuccio HeadshotGary S. Casuccio, Vice President and Senior Scientist, RJ Lee Group, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Casuccio is one of the founders of RJ Lee Group, a company that specializes in the development and application of innovative sampling and analysis methodologies. He has over 40 years of experience in sampling, analysis, and interpretation of data for environmental and industrial hygiene applications. Current activities include characterization of microplastics in air and water; identification of bioaerosols using proton transfer reaction – mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) and analysis of PFAS in air and water.

John LednickyDr. John A. Lednicky, Research Professor, University of Florida, Gainesville

Dr. Lednicky is a Research Professor of Environmental and Global Health with the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Prior to joining the University of Florida, he was an assistant professor of pathology at the Loyola Medical Center in Illinois. He then worked in industry, where he engaged in biodefense-related work, aerobiology related to inhalation exposure studies in small animal models, and various projects with avian influenza H5N1 and other influenza viruses. Dr. Lednicky’s current research focus areas are: (a) aerovirology, (b) virus discovery, (c) virus surveillance with emphasis on arthropod-borne viruses, and (d) influenza virus studies. Since January 2020, a major thrust has been work related to COVID-19. His laboratory is currently involved with isolating SARS-CoV-2 from humans and the environment.

John Watson HeadshotDr. John G. Watson, Research Professor, Desert Research Institute, Nevada

Dr. Watson is a Research Professor at the Desert Research Institute of the Nevada System of Higher Education, where he conducts research on air quality measurements, visibility impairment, and source apportionment. He has more than 45 years of experience in environmental science and has designed and led more than 100 field studies. He has authored two Critical Reviews (CR) and participated in 22 CR Discussions. He has been a member of the Air & Waste Management Association’s Publications and Critical Review Committees since 1982.
About the Critical Review
For more than 50 years, A&WMA has solicited and published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (JA&WMA) an Annual Critical Review on a topic of critical importance to the air and waste management fields. Each year, the review author presents the Annual Critical Review during A&WMA’s Annual Conference & Exhibition. The Critical Review Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Publications Committee, selects the review topics, solicits the authors/presenters, offers editorial guidance and critiques to the review authors, reviews the final manuscript before publication, and selects the participants for the panel discussion that follows the review presentation. 

Complete list of past Critical Reviews
A&WMA Critical Review Committee Charter and Manual of Operations
A&WMA Critical Review Committee