Water Sanitation Health

Water quality: Guidelines, standards and health

Assessment of risk and risk management for water-related infectious disease. WHO 2001

WHO/IWA book cover

Publication details:

Edited by Lorna Fewtrell and Jamie Bartram
Published on behalf of WHO by IWA Publishing
ISBN: 924154533X (WHO), 1900222280 (IWA Publishing)
Languages: English. Publication date: 2001


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The quality of water, whether it is used for drinking, irrigation or recreational purposes, is significant for health in both developing and developed countries worldwide. In responding to the challenge of improving water quality, countries develop standards intended to protect public health. Recognising this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a series of normative "guidelines" that present an authoritative assessment of the health risks associated with exposure to health hazards through water and of the effectiveness of approaches to their control.

To date, the various WHO guidelines (Guidelines for drinking-water quality, Guidelines for the safe use of wastewater and excreta in agriculture and aquaculture and Guidelines for safe recreational water environments) have been developed in isolation from one another. However, their common primary quality concern is for health hazards derived from excreta. Addressing their specific areas of concern together will tend to support better health protection and highlight the value of interventions directed at sources of pollution, which may otherwise be undervalued.

The potential to increase consistency in approaches to assessment and management of water-related microbial hazards was discussed by an international group of experts between 1999 and 2001. These discussions led to the development of a harmonised framework, which was intended to inform the process of development of guidelines and standards. Subsequently, a series of reviews was progressively developed and refined, which addressed the principal issues of concern linking water and health to the establishment and implementation of effective, affordable and efficient guidelines and standards. This book is based on these reviews and the harmonised framework.

Water Quality: Guidelines, Standards and Health will be useful to all those concerned with issues relating to microbial water quality and health, including environmental and public health scientists, water scientists, policy-makers and those responsible for developing standards and regulations.