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Current Opinion in Food Science
Vol. 32, 2020

The effective design of sampling campaigns for emerging chemical and microbial contaminants in drinking water and its resources based on literature mining

JuliaHartmanna,b, Inge van Driezuma, Dana Ohanaa, Gretta Lyncha, Bjorn Berendsenc, Susanne Wuijtsa,d, Jan Peter van der Hoekb,e, Ana Mariade Roda Husmana,f

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands


As well as known contaminants, surface waters also contain an unknown variety of chemical and microbial contaminants which can pose a risk to humans if surface water is used for the production of drinking water. To protect human health proactively, and in a cost-efficient way, water authorities and drinking water companies need early warning systems. This study aimed to (1) assess the effectiveness of screening the scientific literature to direct sampling campaigns for early warning purposes, and (2) detect new aquatic contaminants of concern to public health in the Netherlands. By screening the scientific literature, six example contaminants (3 chemical and 3 microbial) were selected as potential aquatic contaminants of concern to the quality of Dutch drinking water. Stakeholders from the Dutch water sector and various information sources were consulted to identify the potential sources of these contaminants. Based on these potential contamination sources, two sampling sequences were set up from contamination sources (municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants), via surface water used for the production of drinking water to treated drinking water. The chemical contaminants, mycophenolic acid, tetrabutylphosphonium compounds and Hexafluoropropylene Oxide Trimer Acid, were detected in low concentrations and were thus not expected to pose a risk to Dutch drinking water. Colistin resistant Escherichia coli was detected for the first time in Dutch wastewater not influenced by hospital wastewater, indicating circulation of bacteria resistant to this last-resort antibiotic in the open Dutch population. Four out of six contaminants were thus detected in surface or wastewater samples, which showed that screening the scientific literature to direct sampling campaigns for both microbial and chemical contaminants is effective for early warning purposes.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Pathogen, Emerging, Early warning, Contaminants

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