scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Comments | Magazine

Letters to the editor of the Globe Magazine

Readers share their thoughts on a story about using waste water to track health issues, an essay on losing a loved one to addiction, and more.

Leveraging Waste Water

Looking for diseases in waste water has existed for some time (“Biobot Uses Sewage Samples Like This to Unlock Secrets to Saving Lives,” February 6). We help stop waterborne disease transmission with water treatment plants that provide clean water, and insect-borne disease transmission with mosquito control districts that kill mosquitos. We can help stop airborne diseases with filtered air, as done by some schools and companies. The question is: When are we willing to take on building owners and mass transit and demand safe, clean air for customers?

Charles Forsberg


“‘Four years ago, it was our vision and less shared by the collective,’ Ghaeli says. But the coronavirus pandemic provided a massive proof of concept for waste water as a public health tool.” The Commonwealth can thank its lucky stars that Newsha Ghaeli and Mariana Matus were mentally tough — and insightful — enough to persevere. As author Courtney Humphries points out, waste-water measurements have been closely paralleling official case counts posted by the state. If we’re going to bend the arc of the pandemic, we’re going to need a little more than what Biobot has provided. And that “little more” is a combination of political will, public trust, and a pledge to reduce infections. The virus has not disappeared. It’s the responsibility of elected officials to take Biobot data and strategize a plan to protect the collective from harm. We have the tools, but we still need the resolve.

Gluscabi 3


posted on

I had been hearing about the waste-water analyses for a couple of years now, but really didn’t understand the potential for making such a huge difference. Bravo to these two scientists and what they have achieved. I’m still trying to get my head around how big this is — it can truly change the reaction trajectories of government health departments in helping to limit health catastrophes.



posted on

Made in the Shade

Thank you to Saima May Sidik for “Trees Are More Than Scenery. They’re a Social Justice Issue” (Perspective, February 6). Lack of trees/access to canopy is an example of how the burdens of climate change are borne disproportionately by our poorest communities. Beyond the health and social benefits described, trees are carbon sinks, consuming CO2 and emitting oxygen, to everyone’s advantage. As we seek solutions to slow the warming of our world, let’s support local governments’ budgeting of tree planting and maintenance, encourage private and commercial businesses to maintain or replace existing trees, and let’s also seek private support — while the market is good at funding complex technological investment (i.e. developing CO2-eating machines), ignoring existing, efficient, living “technology” is short-sighted and harmful.

Barbara Tarrh


There’s renewed energy across the region for urban forestry: Somerville, Cambridge, and Brookline have urban forestry plans, and Boston is wrapping up its analysis. Medford and other cities have begun resident-led projects to raise awareness in their communities. This is all part of a larger national movement that recognizes the importance of trees in our lives and the mental, physical, economic, and social benefits they provide — benefits that are often not equally shared. In 2018 I helped cofound a nonprofit called Speak for the Trees that raises awareness about tree equity in Boston; visit to find out more.


posted on


The home we purchased over two years ago jumped out at us because of the 10 trees in the backyard. So peaceful. So quietly energetic. We had to take down a tree for exterior work and promptly planted a new tree. Nothing beats a walk around the Charles River on a fully tree-lined path.


posted on

Trees and humans have been best friends since the beginning of time, and for good reasons. Indeed, the word “Academe” in classical Greek means “grove of trees.” ... As a species we are “wired” to be more happy, rational, calm, and human when we are among trees.


posted on

On the Line

In reading B.N.’s letter, it made me think of our family, and something my mother says when she calls (Miss Conduct, February 6). After hello she always asks, “Are you in the middle?” It makes it so easy to say, “Yes, can I call you back?” if necessary. My mom is still going strong at 92, and my four sisters and I all start phone calls to each other this way!

Amy Doherty


In this day and age of caller ID and visual voicemail, there is no reason to pick up the phone if you are busy. Have your message say, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you ASAP.”


posted on

The funny thing about a phone call is, you are not involved in a phone call unless you actually answer the phone. If it is a person who might be calling with an actionable emergency that needs your attention, inform them of your telephone habits. For me, those people are immediate family, who know I cannot always answer the phone and if they desperately need me, will send a 911 text. Barring that, when you answer, if you do not have time for a lengthy chat, you can say “Hello Aunt Edith! It’s so nice to hear your voice! I just want to let you know, I’m expecting a phone call in about 10 minutes that I have to take.”



posted on

The best trick to end a conversation is to start talking about it in the past tense: “I’m so glad we talked,” or “It was great to catch up with you.” Just be firm about it. My kids know the trick, as soon as I say it they’re like, “Ya I get it.”


posted on

Grieving a Loss

I wanted to commend Lisa Greggo for her very honest, very heart-wrenching Connections on her loss and her son’s battle (“A Fragile Bond,” February 6). I think every family has been touched by addiction in some way, sadly. Her emotions are so very brave. Several friends are dealing with a child’s or sibling’s addiction, recovery, relapse, and on and on. Greggo put their heartaches into words.

Jan Potter


Greggo’s feeling of being conflicted about honoring the group that gave her such necessary support during the years of her son’s illness and avoiding the pain that participation could bring her now — as well as the possibility of bringing the pain of her experience to the group — is so real and human and relatable. I thank her for sharing her truth, and continuing to provide support to others in her situation.


Stefanie Cloutier


I too lost my son — my only child — to addiction. What she wrote is how I feel; I still cannot talk and give back to anyone who needs to talk about addiction and it has now been six years.

Helen Mahoney


The pain Greggo is experiencing is indescribable, and I thank her for sharing a piece of herself. My advice to her: Be kind to yourself. You and the group found each other through a shared need and experience. Although you all have a depth of kinship among yourselves, they no longer share your experience. Based on my own life, I encourage her to seek the comfort of others who share her experience of loss. She found it in the company of others on her journey through addiction. She will find it now in the company of others who share their, and her, grief.

Ruby Kent

New Boston, New Hampshire

The anniversary of my son’s fatal overdose [was recently] and I often question why I have not done more for people who continue to struggle with substance abuse. It is nice to read an article that hits home with the exact same sentiment. One can feel powerless over their emotions and isolate. One can feel so much sorrow. It is such a private space that to share it can seem impossible at times.

Beverly DeBruyn


I hope that the author will find a way to be softer toward herself and give herself time to grieve. Grieving is a very distinct process in our lives and unfortunately time needs to pass before we can really get any perspective. Those wonderful supportive people in your group will not judge you if they remember that adage, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Take your time healing. Withdraw, cry, scream, write.

Candice Porter


CONTACT US: Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Comments, 1 Exchange Place, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109-2132. Comments are subject to editing.