Section 54
Chapter 53,144

Exposure assessment for swimmers in bathing waters and swimming pools

Schets, F.M.; Schijven, J.F.; de Roda Husman, A.M.

Water Research 45(7): 2392-2400


ISSN/ISBN: 1879-2448
PMID: 21371734
DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2011.01.025
Accession: 053143873

Bathing water compliant with bathing water legislation may nevertheless contain pathogens to such a level that they pose unacceptable health risks for swimmers. Quantitative Microbiological Risk Assessment (QMRA) can provide a proper basis for protective measures, but the required data on swimmer exposure are currently limited or lacking. The objective of this study was to collect exposure data for swimmers in fresh water, seawater and swimming pools, i.e. volume of water swallowed and frequency and duration of swimming events. The study related to swimming in 2007, but since the summer of 2007 was wet and this might have biased the results regarding surface water exposure, the study was repeated relating to swimming in 2009, which had a dry and sunny summer. Exposure data were collected through questionnaires administered to approximately 19 000 persons representing the general Dutch population. Questionnaires were completed by 8000 adults of whom 1924 additionally answered the questions for their eldest child (< 15 years). The collected data did not differ significantly between 2007 and 2009. The frequency of swimming and the duration of swimming were different for men, women and children and between water types. Differences between men and women were small, but children behaved differently: they swam more often, stayed in the water longer, submerged their heads more often and swallowed more water. Swimming pools were visited most frequently (on average 13-24 times/year) with longest duration of swimming (on average 67-81 min). On average, fresh and seawater sites were visited 6-8 times/year and visits lasted 41-79 min. Dependent on the water type, men swallowed on average 27-34 ml per swimming event, women 18-23 ml, and children 31-51 ml. Data on exposure of swimmers to recreational waters could be obtained by using a questionnaire approach in combination with a test to measure mouthfuls of water for transformation of categorical data to numerical data of swallowed volumes of water. Previous assumptions on swimmer exposure were replaced with estimates of exposure parameters, thus reducing uncertainty in assessing the risk of infection with waterborne pathogens and enabling identification of risk groups. QMRA for Cryptosporidium and Giardia was demonstrated based on data from previous studies on the occurrence of these pathogens in recreational lakes and a swimming pool.

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