Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment as support for bathing waters profiling

Ileana Federigi, Lucia Bonadonna, Giusy Bonanno Ferraro, Rossella Briancesco, Lorenzo Cioni, Anna Maria Coccia, Simonetta Della Libera, Emanuele Ferretti, Liana Gramaccioni, Marcello Iaconelli, Giuseppina La Rosa, Luca Lucentini, Pamela Mancini, Elisabetta Suffredini, Teresa Vicenza, Carolina Veneri, Marco Verani, Annalaura Carducci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Profiling bathing waters supported by Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) is key to the WHO's recommendations for the 2020/2021 revision of the European Bathing Water Directive. We developed an area-specific QMRA model on four pathogens, using fecal indicator concentrations (E. coli, enterococci) for calculating pathogen loads. The predominance of illness was found to be attributable to Human Adenovirus, followed by Salmonella, Vibrio, and Norovirus. Overall, the cumulative illness risk showed a median of around 1 case/10000 exposures. The risk estimates were strongly influenced by the indicators that were used, suggesting the need for a more detailed investigation of the different sources of fecal contamination. Area-specific threshold values for fecal indicators were estimated on a risk-basis by modelling the cumulative risk against E. coli and enterococci concentrations. To improve bathing waters assessment, we suggest considering source apportionment, locally estimating of pathogen/indicator ratios, and calculating site-specific indicators thresholds based on risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111318
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Bathing waters
  • Fecal indicators
  • Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA)
  • Salmonella
  • Vibrio
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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