Effects of a 20 year rain event: a quantitative microbial risk assessment of a case of contaminated bathing water in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Quantitative microbial risk assessments (QMRAs) often lack data on water quality leading to great uncertainty in the QMRA because of the many assumptions. The quantity of waste water contamination was estimated and included in a QMRA on an extreme rain event leading to combined sewer overflow (CSO) to bathing water where an ironman competition later took place. Two dynamic models, (1) a drainage model and (2) a 3D hydrodynamic model, estimated the dilution of waste water from source to recipient. The drainage model estimated that 2.6% of waste water was left in the system before CSO and the hydrodynamic model estimated that 4.8% of the recipient bathing water came from the CSO, so on average there was 0.13% of waste water in the bathing water during the ironman competition. The total estimated incidence rate from a conservative estimate of the pathogenic load of five reference pathogens was 42%, comparable to 55% in an epidemiological study of the case. The combination of applying dynamic models and exposure data led to an improved QMRA that included an estimate of the dilution factor. This approach has not been described previously.

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