New Brunswick, N.J. (April 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick professors Nicole Fahrenfeld and John Reinfelder are available for interviews on environmental protection issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fahrenfeld can discuss issues including microbial water quality, sewer issues (including what shouldn’t be flushed), wastewater-based epidemiology, combined sewer overflows, the One Water movement, the One Health Initiative and private well water quality.

“New Jersey’s wastewater treatment plants are designed to remove things from the water that are supposed to be drained and flushed, such as urine and feces, soap from hand- and dish-washing and toilet paper,” according to Fahrenfeld, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering. “Therefore, it is especially important at a time like this that people maintain their normal healthy environmental practices by not disposing of items like wipes, sanitary napkins, pharmaceuticals and toxic chemicals in sinks and/or toilets.”

Reinfelder can discuss possible “blue water days” in urban waterways due to a decrease in domestic and industrial water use, and potentially higher volumes of wastewater discharged to waterways in suburban areas as large numbers of people stay home. He can also discuss the higher concentrations of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical compounds in wastewater and the possible short- and longer-term effects of the relaxation of current environmental regulations.

“The current period of reduced human activity needed to reduce the effects of the spread of COVID-19 on public health may give environmental scientists and managers an opportunity to evaluate the impacts of everyday activities associated with wastewater discharges on the health of rivers, estuaries and the coastal ocean,” according to Reinfelder, a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

Their comments are included in a story on the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences website:


Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Neal Buccino at [email protected]

Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It has an internationally acclaimed faculty, 12 degree-granting schools and the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse student body.