New approach for evaluating the public health risk of living near a polluted river


Chemical, physical and microbial analyses were conducted in the Sarno River basin to obtain a comprehensive description of the overall quality of the water bodies. The collection period lasted 12 months, between 2005 and 2006, with high frequency of sampling and analysis. More than 6,000 analytical determinations were performed on samples collected at six sampling points along the Sarno River and two points each on tributaries Solofrana and Cavaiola. The results indicated the presence of inorganic contaminants, which, in most cases, were below the Italian State water quality thresholds. The organic contamination showed an increasing trend, with respect to previous determinations, thus demonstrating the major contribution of untreated urban wastewater to the overall pollution of the river. Moreover, this study was designed to explore the correlation between the presence of microbial indicators of fecal contamination in Sarno River and their presumable presence in the aerosol surrounding the river, thus pointing to the possible environmental hazard associated with the presence of pathogens in the air.