Assessing protozoan risks for surface drinking water supplies in Nova Scotia, Canada

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Protozoa, such as Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia, pose a human health risk when present in drinking water. To minimize health risks, the Nova Scotia Treatment Standards for surface water and groundwater under the direct influence of surface water require a 3-log reduction for Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts. This study determined the protozoan risk of municipal surface source waters in Nova Scotia, through the use of a pre-screening risk analysis of water supplies, followed by subsequent water quality analysis of the seven highest risk supplies. The water supplies were monitored monthly for 1 year to obtain baseline data that could be used for a quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). The QMRA model outcomes were compared to the Health Canada health target of 10−6 disability-adjusted life years/person/year. QMRA modeling shows that the treatment facilities meet the required log reductions and disability-adjusted life year target standards under current conditions. Furthermore, based on the results of this work, Nova Scotia should maintain the current 3-log reduction standard for Giardia cysts and Cryptosporidium oocysts. The results of this study show that a pre-screening step can help to inform water sources that are particularly vulnerable to protozoan contamination, which can lead to more focused, cost-effective sampling, and monitoring programs.

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