Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment

Optimising microbial risk evaluation across the water cycle for public and environmental health protection.

Austen Buck is our expert in Water Safety Planning

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Water Safety: Advancing Public Health Protection

At WRc, we recognise the importance of ensuring water safety and mitigating potential health impacts from microbial threats. With the rising global emphasis on evidence-backed approaches, our service employs the rigour of Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) – an approach endorsed by the World Health Organisation for its precision and comprehensive nature. Our commitment lies in aligning our offerings with your specific needs, ensuring a safer environment through informed decision-making and effective water safety management.

We Offer:

  • Bespoke QMRA service tailored specifically for Legionella spp. inhalation via unique exposure routes such as spray irrigation and toilet flushing
  • Broad application QMRA service designed for both ingestion and inhalation exposure routes.

Our comprehensive risk assessment package includes:

  • Graphical Insight: offering a visual depiction of the risk profile for a quick understanding of areas of concern
  • Sensitivity Analysis: expert evaluations to determine treatment efficacy
  • Executive Summary: detailed interpretations of results and expert guidance for risk management

Water Safety Planning: QMRA incorporation

The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasises a proactive, risk-based approach to water quality management from source to tap, centring on microbial hazards. The WHO guideline for drinking-water quality hinge on risk assessments, forming the core of water safety plans. These risk assessments range from basic sanitary inspection scores to the comprehensive Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA). The WHO therefore recommends the incorporation of QMRA in water safety planning for ensuring the safety and acceptability of drinking water supply in developed and developing settings.

Our microbiology and water safety planning team possess an understanding of potential hazard affecting water supply systems, encompassing microbial, aesthetic, and physicochemical threats. With our extensive experience and expertise aligned with WHO guidelines and BS EN 15975-2, we not only recognise but manage these threats adeptly.

We offer comprehensive guidance for QMRA's incorporation in water safety planning. Our services cover bespoke QMRA tailored specifically for Legionella spp. inhalation via exposure routes such as spray irrigation and toilet flushing. We equally offer a broad application QMRA for both ingestion and inhalation exposure routes. We also conduct regulatory review, desk-based and on-site assessment/audit, policy, process and procedural drafting and review, and technical training in all aspects of water safety planning.

    Risk Identification

    Are current water safety measures effectively pinpointing and addressing all microbial threats in the system?

    Data Utilisation Gaps

    How well are organisations translating microbial data into actionable water safety interventions?

    Public Health Protection

    Are water systems equipped to anticipate and neutralise potential microbial hazards before they pose a public health risk?

    Stakeholders' Trust

    Are stakeholders expressing concerns about the robustness and transparency of water safety protocols?

    Microbial Matters

    See below how our microbiology team have helped clients explore state-of-the-art microbial source tracking techniques and evaluate microbial hazards associated with water re-use.

    • DEFRA Microbial Source Tracking
    • UKWIR Microsheets
    • Water Re-use QMRA

    Delivered a project for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to explore the state-of-the-art microbial source tracking methods currently being researched across the globe. We uncovered how these methods may enable greater protection of water sources for the improvement of public and environmental health in the UK.

    Deliver expertise in the update and review of the United Kingdom Water Industry Research (UKWIR) microbiological database. The factsheets provide up-to-date information of pathogens and other nuisance organisms within the water supply system, their taxonomy, the presence in source water, their treatment and their potential health impacts if public exposure occurs.

    Quantified microbial risk associated with re-using treated wastewater effluent for the irrigation of a golf-course. Treatment targets were developed by following the WHO Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) approach from problem formulation to risk characterisation.

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      Austen Buck

      Principal Consultant (Microbiology)

      Austen has held numerous positions in the water industry over the last 15 years, always with a focus on microbiology and water safety planning. He currently heads up WRc’s Microbiology Team and leads and supports on international and national projects with water suppliers, government departments and regulators regarding microbiological monitoring, risk assessment, management and control, and water safety planning. He holds a PhD in Public Health and Environmental Microbiology and has co-authored publications on virus and bacteriophage removal through membrane bioreactor technologies. Austen is a Chartered Scientist with the British Science Council, a corporate member of the Institute of Water (IWater), and an area committee member and mentor within IWater.