Sampling feces -- technique and ethics!

  • cremington
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Sampling feces -- technique and ethics!

Has anyone gone about sampling fresh feces for research? What was the technique used and was there an ethics process involved? Cheers!
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  • swoolley
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Re: Sampling feces -- technique and ethics!

Hi There!

I did some research on physical properties of fresh faeces, and I'm happy to help.

I did my research through UKZN and followed their procedures according to their ethics committee. Simply put, any data on an individual requires procedures to ensure that they can never be identified through published research or archived data.

The way UKZN approved us to conduct sampling was to have a sampling team that procured fresh samples, and assigned them a "donor number" and "stool number", and the analysis team that only ever knew the donor number, so they would never be able to link any data to an individual or group of individuals. But we knew which samples were from the same data, should any patterns or trends emerge between donors. Records that link donor names to donor numbers were destroyed after the project.

In terms of sampling technique, to prevent degradation of faecal samples, they were immediately placed by the donor in a cooler box with frozen ice bricks after they were produced, and transported to the laboratory. Faecal samples were stored in a cold room at 2°C, and tested within 48 hours. Faecal samples were photographed, weighed and classified using the Bristol Stool Form Scale, and then had physical properties measured. For us, biological degradation and drying were going to have a massive impact on the properties we wanted to measure, so we were quite aggressive about cold storage and a quick turnaround time for testing. Obviously the sampling methodology can be tailored to the proprieties you's want to measure.

Let me know if you'd like to know any specifics!

Stuart Woolley

Process Engineer: R&D
Biomass Controls LLC
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  • cremington
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Re: Sampling feces -- technique and ethics!

Thank you so much for your response! I would love to know more details -- do you have anything written up for either the ethics or the sampling piece? I'm thinking of things like consent forms, protocols, etc. Thanks again!
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  • swoolley
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Re: Sampling feces -- technique and ethics!

Sure! I still have drafts of the consent forms and applications, which can be shared.

In terms of sampling, the SOPs have likely since been refined as further research has been conducted at UKZN. I'll put you in touch with Tina Velkushanova (UKZN-PRG) for the latest versions, as she's also be working on standardizing a lot of the testing procedures.

I'll send you a PM!

Stuart Woolley

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Biomass Controls LLC
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  • muench
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Re: Sampling feces -- technique and ethics!

Dear Stuart,

Very interesting! Sampling fresh feces is completely different to sampling wastewater or fecal sludge since it's so much "closer to source".

You mentioned an ongoing research project at UKZN. Is it this one?: www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/projects/database/details/393
Standard Methods for the Analysis of Faecal Sludge
2016 - 2018 • University of KwaZulu-Natal

Feel free to post what you can share with Claire also here on the forum (unless it is confidential). You never know who in years to come might come across this thread (e.g. via a Google search) and then be grateful to find this information right here. Thanks.

Claire: could you tell us more about why you are asking? Embarking on a new research project? Just curious.

Elisabeth

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