Some national drinking water guidelines provide guidance on how to define ‘safe’ drinking water. Regarding microbial water quality, a common position is that the chance of an individual becoming infected by some reference waterborne pathogen (e.g. Cryptsporidium) present in the drinking water should <10−4 in any year. However the instantaneous levels of risk to a water consumer vary over the course of a year, and waterborne disease outbreaks have been associated with shorter-duration periods of heightened risk. Performing probabilistic microbial risk assessments is becoming commonplace to capture the impacts of temporal variability on overall infection risk levels. A case is presented here for adoption of a shorter-duration reference period (i.e. daily) infection probability target over which to assess, report and benchmark such risks. A daily infection probability benchmark may provide added incentive and guidance for exercising control over short-term adverse risk fluctuation events and their causes. Management planning could involve outlining measures so that the daily target is met under a variety of pre-identified event scenarios. Other benefits of a daily target could include providing a platform for managers to design and assess management initiatives, as well as simplifying the technical components of the risk assessment process.
Comparing probabilistic microbial risk assessments for drinking water against daily rather than annualised infection probability targets
R. S. Signor, N. J. Ashbolt; Comparing probabilistic microbial risk assessments for drinking water against daily rather than annualised infection probability targets. J Water Health 1 December 2009; 7 (4): 535–543. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wh.2009.101
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