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Do we all face the same risk when bathing in the estuary?

Lepesteur, M., McComb, A. and Moore, S.A. (2006) Do we all face the same risk when bathing in the estuary? Water Research, 40 (14). pp. 2787-2795.

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With the development of coastal areas, microbial water quality is an emerging public health issue though few studies have focused on risks according to age. A survey was undertaken of faecal contamination in relation to recreational activities in the Peel Harvey estuarine system, Western Australia. Levels of exposure to contaminated water were estimated though social surveys. Follow-up was also conducted to estimate the incidence of disease associated with bathing in the estuary. Pathogen levels exceeded the guideline values recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at most locations throughout the year. The social survey provided information about exposure of the population in age groups. Only 31% of the recreational users belonged to the healthy adult group upon which the WHO quantitative microbial risk assessment model is based. A correlation was established between microbial water quality and incidence of respiratory diseases for children as well as for adults. Exposure to recreational water increased the incidence of respiratory illnesses for the whole population almost by a factor 2. Behaviours which resulted in increased exposures were associated with increased incidence of illnesses were observed, particularly among children aged 11-15 yr, who exhibited the highest odd ratio (OR 4.23 [2.44-6.01], CI 95%, p = 0.05). There is a need for combining epidemiology studies with risk assessment processes and complementing them with social surveys for understanding the risk of recreational activities to public health.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © Elsevier BV
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