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Microbial Risks from Wastewater Irrigation of Salad Crops: A Screening-Level Risk Assessment

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The potential health risk from viruses, associated with the consumption of lettuce crops spray irrigated with secondary-treated municipal effluent, has been evaluated in the first level investigation of a tiered microbial risk assessment. The study assessed the impact of two factors on the estimated risk of infection: a suitable probability density function for the occurrence of human enteroviruses in irrigation water and appropriate die-off rates for viruses on lettuce crops. A Monte Carlo simulation using a log-normal and a nonparametric, kernel estimated probability density function indicated that slight changes in the upper tail of the probability density function had a relatively low effect on the estimated infection rates. Predicted infection rates were much more sensitive to the decay rate of viruses than occasional high virus numbers. The median and 99th percentile risks of infection from the overall model were 0.10 and 0.51/10 000 lettuce consumers, respectively, indicating possible human health concern, and the justification of a more detailed microbial risk assessment.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-11-01

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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