Advice to Risk Assessors Modeling Viral Health Risk Associated with Household Graywater

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Abstract

Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) is a valuable tool that can be used to predict the risk associated with human exposure to specific microbial contaminants in water sources. The transparency inherent in the QMRA process benefits discussions between multidisciplinary teams because members of such teams have different expertise and their confidence in the risk assessment output will depend upon whether they regard the selected input data and assumptions as being suitable and/or plausible. Selection of input data requires knowledge of the availability of appropriate data sets, the limitations of using a particular data set, and the logic of using alternative approaches. In performing QMRA modeling and in the absence of directly relevant data, compromises must be made. One such compromise made is to use available Escherichia coli data and apply a ratio of enteric viruses to indicator E. coli in wastewater obtained from prior studies to estimate the concentration of enteric viruses in other wastewater types/sources. In this article, we have provided an argument for why we do not recommend the use of a pathogen to E. coli ratio to estimate virus concentrations in single household graywater and additionally suggested circumstances in which use of such a ratio may be justified.

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