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Catawba College Parasitology class visits Charlotte water quality lab

Dr. Carmony Hartwig’s parasitology class at Catawba College recently visited the public utility Charlotte Water at its Environmental Services Facility. The students saw how concepts learned in the classroom are applied in real-world techniques.

This facility is the home of Charlotte Water’s personal water quality lab, where it tests wastewater and drinking water in Charlotte and surrounding municipalities. Researchers at the lab, including Catawba College alum Kyle Henderson, test water supplies for parasites of human health importance, namely Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia. These parasites can cause symptoms including fatigue and dehydration.

Students visiting the lab learned about the high-tech approach that researchers use to separate and visualize these parasites from other water contaminants. They also saw how the parasites are measured and counted if present, and how high capacity analytical and organic chemistry techniques measure trace chemical contaminants and organic volatiles.

“Charlotte Water provided a strong correlation to the material that we have learned in parasitology class, while also presenting a potential field of interest,” said sophomore Jasmine Wiitala, a double major in environmental science and biology. “Before this trip, I was unaware of just how close to home these parasites really are.”

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