Bathing Water Quality Monitoring Practices in Europe and the United States



Tiwari A, Oliver DM, Bivins A, Sherchan SP & Pitkänen T (2021) Bathing Water Quality Monitoring Practices in Europe and the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (11), Art. No.: 5513.

Many countries including EU Member States (EUMS) and the United States (U.S.) regularly monitor the microbial quality of bathing water to protect public health. This study comprehensively evaluates the EU bathing water directive (BWD) and the U.S. recreational water quality criteria (RWQC) as regulatory frameworks for monitoring microbial quality of bathing water. The major differences between these two regulatory frameworks are the provision of bathing water profiles, classification of bathing sites based on the pollution level, variations in the sampling frequency, accepted probable illness risk, epidemiological studies conducted during the development of guideline values, and monitoring methods. There are also similarities between the two approaches given that both enumerate viable fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) as an index of the potential risk to human health in bathing water and accept such risk up to a certain level. However, enumeration of FIB using methods outlined within these current regulatory frameworks does not consider the source of contamination nor variation in inactivation rates of enteric microbes in different ecological contexts, which is dependent on factors such as temperature, solar radiation, and salinity in various climatic regions within their geographical areas. A comprehensive “tool-box approach”, i.e., coupling of FIB and viral pathogen indicators with microbial source tracking for regulatory purposes, offers potential for delivering improved understanding to better protect the health of bathers.

bathing and recreational water; microbial quality; tool-box-approach; bathing water directive; recreational water quality criteria

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Volume 18, Issue 11

FundersFinnish Ministry for the Environment
Publication date30/06/2021
Publication date online21/05/2021
Date accepted by journal16/05/2021
PublisherMDPI AG

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Professor David Oliver

Professor David Oliver

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences