The use of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation of horticultural crops is commonplace in many parts of the world and is likely to increase. Concerns about risks to human health arising from such practice, especially with respect to infection with microbial pathogens, are common. Several factors need to be considered when attempting to quantify the risk posed to a population, such as the concentration of pathogens in the source water, water treatment efficiency, the volume of water coming into contact with the crop, and the die-off rate of pathogens in the environment. Another factor, which has received relatively less attention, is the amount of food consumed. Plainly, higher consumption rates place one at greater risk of becoming infected. The amount of vegetables consumed is known to vary among ethic groups. We use Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment Modelling (QMRA) to see if certain ethnic groups are exposed to higher risks by virtue of their consumption behaviour. The results suggest that despite the disparities in consumption rates by different ethnic groups they generally all faced comparable levels of risks. We conclude by suggesting that QMRA should be used to assess the relative levels of risk faced by groups based on divisions other than ethnicity, such as those with compromised immune systems.
Is the risk of illness through consuming vegetables irrigated with reclaimed wastewater different for different population groups?
A.J. Hamilton, F.S. Stagnitti, R. Premier, A.-M. Boland; Is the risk of illness through consuming vegetables irrigated with reclaimed wastewater different for different population groups?. Water Sci Technol 1 December 2006; 54 (11-12): 379–386. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2006.714
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