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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Molecular tools for bathing water assessment in Europe: balancing social science research with a rapidly developing environmental science evidence-base
Author(s): Oliver, David
Hanley, Nicholas
Van Niekerk, Melanie
Kay, Dave
Heathwaite, Louise
Rabinovici, Sharyl
Kinzelman, Julie
Fleming, Lora
Porter, Jonathan
Shaikh, Sabina
Fish, Rob
Chilton, Sue
Hewitt, Julie
Connolly, Elaine
Quilliam, Richard
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Keywords: Bathing Water Directive
Fecal indicator organism
Microbial pollution
Public perception
Recreational water quality
Risk communication
Issue Date: Feb-2016
Date Deposited: 25-Sep-2015
Citation: Oliver D, Hanley N, Van Niekerk M, Kay D, Heathwaite L, Rabinovici S, Kinzelman J, Fleming L, Porter J, Shaikh S, Fish R, Chilton S, Hewitt J, Connolly E & Quilliam R (2016) Molecular tools for bathing water assessment in Europe: balancing social science research with a rapidly developing environmental science evidence-base. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 45 (1), pp. 52-62.
Abstract: The use of molecular tools, principally qPCR, versus traditional culture-based methods for quantifying microbial parameters (e.g., Fecal Indicator Organisms) in bathing waters generates considerable ongoing debate at the science–policy interface. Advances in science have allowed the development and application of molecular biological methods for rapid (~2h) quantification of microbial pollution in bathing and recreational waters. In contrast, culture-based methods can take between 18 and 96h for sample processing. Thus, molecular tools offer an opportunity to provide a more meaningful statement of microbial risk to water-users by providing near-real-time information enabling potentially more informed decision-making with regard to water-based activities. However, complementary studies concerning the potential costs and benefits of adopting rapid methods as a regulatory tool are in short supply. We report on findings from an international Working Group that examined the breadth of social impacts, challenges, and research opportunities associated with the application of molecular tools to bathing water regulations.
DOI Link: 10.1007/s13280-015-0698-9
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Notes: Additional co-authors: Andy Cummins, Klaus Glenk, Calum McPhail, Eric McRory, Alistair McVittie, Amanna Giles, Suzanne Roberts, Dugald Tinch, Ted Thairs, Andy J. A. Vinten, Bill D. Watts
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