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Scientists seek to assess the microbial risks in the water we drink
Date:12/11/2007

the American Academy of Microbiology in October, 2006. Experts in diverse fields with expertise in water quality and analysis including microbiology, public health, engineering, epidemiology, medicine, and water science discussed some of the controversial topics in microbial risk assessment, research that could move the field forward, and the need for increased training and better communication with the public. The report is a record of their discussions and recommendations.

During an outbreak situation, scientists and public health officials have many questions to address. Which water treatment option is best" Who are the most sensitive members of the population, and how can they be protected" Where should efforts and resources be directed" What are the most dangerous pathogens found in the water, and how did they get there"

Microbial risk assessment addresses all these questions by offering a formalized approach for identifying the risks that arise from contact with pathogenic microorganisms, including certain bacteria, viruses, and microscopic eukaryotes. Microbial risk assessment also can help guide management decisions, identify sensitive groups, spot critical pathogen control points, and aid in the assessment of the adequacy of drinking water treatment barriers.

The report describes the scientific methods involved in microbial risk assessment, addresses the current challenges facing this evolving field, and offers a number of recommendations, including:

  • An international database of pathogen occurrence in drinking water and ambient waters should be established. This would inform microbial risk assessment, risk management, and enable the implementation of effective public health initiatives.

  • An independent microbial risk assessment advisory board with members from both industry and academia, and with international representation, should be assembled. This advisory board could foster the most consistent
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Contact: Peggy McNult
pmcnult@asmusa.org
202-942-9225
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

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