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Human health impact of non-potable reuse of distributed wastewater and greywater treated by membrane bioreactors (Microbial Risk Analysis)
Schoen, M., M. Jahne, AND J. Garland. Human health impact of non-potable reuse of distributed wastewater and greywater treated by membrane bioreactors (Microbial Risk Analysis). Microbial Risk Analysis. Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, 9:72-81, (2018). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mran.2018.01.003
Highlights • Pathogen annual risks for non-potable indoor reuse of MBR-treated waters are calculated. • Scenarios include distributed residential and office greywater and wastewater. • Annual risks were generally below 10−4 infections per person per year except for protozoa. • Days with accidental ingestion determined the annual probability of infection. and • Future data collection needs include MBR treatment of protozoa.
We assessed the annual probability of infection resulting from non-potable exposures to distributed greywater and domestic wastewater treated by an aerobic membrane bioreactor (MBR) followed by chlorination. A probabilistic quantitative microbial risk assessment was conducted for both residential and office buildings and a residential district using Norovirus, Rotavirus, Campylobacter jejuni, and Cryptosporidium spp. as reference pathogens. A Monte Carlo approach captured variation in pathogen concentration in the collected water and pathogen (or microbial surrogate) treatment performance, when available, for various source water and collection scale combinations. Uncertain inputs such as dose-response relationships and the volume ingested were treated deterministically and explored through sensitivity analysis. The predicted 95th percentile annual risks for non-potable indoor reuse of distributed greywater and domestic wastewater at district and building scales were less than the selected health benchmark of 10−4 infections per person per year (ppy) for all pathogens except Cryptosporidium spp., given the selected exposure (which included occasional, accidental ingestion), dose-response, and treatment performance assumptions. For Cryptosporidium spp., the 95th percentile annual risks for reuse of domestic wastewater (for all selected collection scenarios) and district-collected greywater were greater than the selected health benchmark when using the limited, available MBR treatment performance data; this finding is counterintuitive given the large size of Cryptosporidium spp. relative to the MBR pores. Therefore, additional data on MBR removal of protozoa is required to evaluate the proposed MBR treatment process for non-potable reuse. Although the predicted Norovirus annual risks were small across scenarios (less than 10−7 infections ppy), the risks for Norovirus remain uncertain, in part because the treatment performance is difficult to interpret given that the ratio of total to infectious viruses in the raw and treated effluents remains unknown. Overall, the differences in pathogen characterization between collection type (i.e., office vs. residential) and scale (i.e., district vs. building) drove the differences in predicted risk; and, the accidental ingestion event (although modeled as rare) determined the annual probability of infection. The predicted risks resulting from treatment malfunction scenarios indicated that online, real-time monitoring of both the MBR and disinfection processes remains important for non-potable reuse at distributed scales. The resulting predicted health risks provide insight on the suitability of MBR treatment for distributed, non-potable reuse at different collection scales and the potential to reduce health risks for non-potable reuse.