Including Pathogen Risk in Life Cycle Assessment of Wastewater Management. 1. Estimating the Burden of Disease Associated with Pathogens
Journal article, 2014
The environmental performance of wastewater and sewage sludge management is commonly assessed using life cycle assessment (LCA), whereas pathogen risk is evaluated with quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). This study explored the application of QMRA methodology with intent to include pathogen risk in LCA and facilitate a comparison with other potential impacts on human health considered in LCA. Pathogen risk was estimated for a model wastewater treatment system (WWTS) located in an industrialized country and consisting of primary, secondary, and tertiary wastewater treatment, anaerobic sludge digestion, and land application of sewage sludge. The estimation was based on eight previous QMRA studies as well as parameter values taken from the literature. A total pathogen risk (expressed as burden of disease) on the order of 0.2–9 disability-adjusted life years (DALY) per year of operation was estimated for the model WWTS serving 28 600 persons and for the pathogens and exposure pathways included in this study. The comparison of pathogen risk with other potential impacts on human health considered in LCA is detailed in part 2 of this article series.