Water reuse is a feasible alternative for non-potable and potable needs, e.g., irrigation. Nonetheless, this option is associated with environmental e public health risks. Therefore, a microbiological health risk assessment was carried out regarding the application of agricultural reuse of water in the neighborhood of Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP). This study was carried out in cities in the central region of Brazil, using a semiquantitative methodology. E. coli density in treated wastewater was used as an input, which was obtained from the city wastewater utility. The same scenarios exposure was defined for two crops – sugarcane and pasture – at the surroundings of four WWTP under study. As receptors, the following were adopted: farmers; water reuse transport workers; the local community; and sugarcane industry workers. The estimated risks for all groups were considered acceptable. Furthermore, such risks should be reduced to despicable if improvements in the wastewater treatment system and more efficient configurations of barriers were adopted. It can be concluded that risk assessment clarifies the options for system-management, allowing for better informed decision-making and encouraging public confidence in the safe application of water reuse.

  • The reclaimed water showed E. coli above the limits recommended by the WHO and the Brazilian guideline.

  • Obtained acceptable risk for agricultural reuse of sugarcane and pasture.

  • Farmers had the greatest health risk.

  • The risk becomes despicable by increasing the treatment of recycled water and adopting more barriers.

  • The most suitable for Brazil is to adopt standards based on a fit for purpose approach supported by risk assessment.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
This content is only available as a PDF.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits copying and redistribution for non-commercial purposes with no derivatives, provided the original work is properly cited (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Supplementary data