Defining established and emerging microbial risks in the aquatic environment: current knowledge, implications, and outlooks.
Rowan, Neil J.
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This timely review primarily addresses important but presently undefined microbial risks to public health and to the natural environment. It specifically focuses on current knowledge, future outlooks and offers some potential alleviation strategies that may reduce or eliminate the risk of problematic microbes in their viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state and Cryptosporidium oocysts in the aquatic environment. As emphasis is placed on water quality, particularly surrounding efficacy of decontamination at the wastewater treatment plant level, this review also touches upon other related emerging issues, namely, the fate and potential ecotoxicological impact of untreated antibiotics and other pharmaceutically active compounds in water. Deciphering best published data has elucidated gaps between science and policy that will help stakeholders work towards the European Union’s Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), which provides an ambitious legislative framework for water quality improvements within its region and seeks to restore all water bodies to “good ecological status” by 2015. Future effective risk-based assessment and management, post definition of the plethora of dynamic inter-related factors governing the occurrence, persistence and/or control of these presently undefined hazards in water will also demand exploiting and harnessing tangential advances in allied disciplines such as mathematical and computer modeling that will permit efficient data generation and transparent reporting to be undertaken by well-balanced consortia of stakeholders.
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