Quantitative microbial risk assessment and its applications in small water systems: A review

Mohamed A. Hamouda, Xiaohui Jin, Heli Xu, Fei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) has been mainstreamed in many large municipal water systems as part of a paradigm shift in the drinking water industry towards water safety planning and risk-based system assessment. Small water systems (SWSs) are generally more vulnerable to typical water system hazards, and consequently have a higher risk of waterborne disease outbreak. In this paper, a review of experiences in implementing QMRA in SWSs helps elaborate the sources of risks and highlights some of the challenges facing SWSs in developed countries. A critical review of the important elements for practical implementation of QMRA was conducted. The investigation focuses on aspects related to challenges in identifying relevant hazards to SWSs to create failure scenarios, acquiring monitoring data for pathogens' concentrations in source water, estimating treatment efficiencies of typical small system technologies, and access to software tools to support successful implementation. The review helped outline ways through which SWSs can overcome the identified challenges in implementing QMRA. An adjusted framework for implementing QMRA for small water systems was formulated and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1002
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 2018


  • Framework
  • Knowledge gap
  • Limited data
  • QMRA
  • Small water systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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