Quantitative microbial risk assessment of Legionella pneumophila in a drinking water supply system in Israel

Y. Sharaby, S. Rodríguez-Martínez, M. G. Höfle, I. Brettar, M. Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Legionella pneumophila cause human infections via inhalation of contaminated water aerosols, resulting in severe pneumonia. Legionella spp. prevalence was monitored in a drinking-water distribution system (DWDS) in Northern Israel. Five points (toilet faucets and showers) were sampled seasonally along a three years period. Toilet faucets and shower use, both generating aerosols, are known transmission routes for this pathogen and thus, present a potential health risk. Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) was applied in order to assess the health risks posed by Legionella for these two exposure scenarios, while considering Legionella seasonality. The obtained results were compared with estimated tolerable risk levels of infection and of disease set by the USEPA and WHO. Both limits were expressed as Disability-Adjusted Life Years index (DALY) being 1 × 10 −4 and 1 × 10 −6 , respectively. The QMRA revealed that the annual risk levels for both faucets and showers use exceeded the acceptable risk of infection with an average of 5.52 × 10 −4 and 2.37 × 10 −3 DALY'S per person per year, respectively. Annual risk levels were stable with no significant differences between the three years. Risk levels varied significantly between seasons by up to three orders of magnitude. Risk levels were highest during summer, autumn, and lowest during winter. The highest seasonal infection risk values were found in summer for both faucets and showers, which corresponded to 8.09 × 10 −4 and 2.75 × 10 −3 DALY'S per person per year, respectively. In conclusion, during summer and autumn there is a significant increase of the infection risk associated with exposure to Legionella-contaminated aerosols, in the studied water system. Public health assessment and prevention measures should focus on these seasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-410
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG grant GZ: HO 930/5-2 ) and by the Joint UGC - ISF research grant ( #2728/17 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Legionella
  • Public-health
  • QMRA
  • Risk assessment
  • Season

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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