This study assesses health risks to consumers due to the use of agricultural products irrigated with reclaimed wastewater. The analysis is based on a definition of an exposure model which takes into account several parameters: (1) the quality of the applied wastewater, (2) the irrigation method, (3) the elapsed times between irrigation, harvest, and product consumption, and (4) the consumers' habits. The exposure model is used for numerical simulation of human consumers' risks using the Monte Carlo simulation method. The results of the numerical simulation show large deviations, probably caused by uncertainty (impreciseness in quality of input data) and variability due to diversity among populations. There is a 10-orders of magnitude difference in the risk of infection between the different exposure scenarios with the same water quality. This variation indicates the need for setting risk-based criteria for wastewater reclamation rather than single water quality guidelines. Extra data are required to decrease uncertainty in the risk assessment. Future research needs to include definition of acceptable risk criteria, more accurate dose-response modeling, information regarding pathogen survival in treated wastewater, additional data related to the passage of pathogens into and in the plants during irrigation, and information regarding the behavior patterns of the community of human consumers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology