Screening-level risk assessment of Coxiella burnetii (Q fever) transmission via aeration of drinking water

Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Apr 3;46(7):4125-33. doi: 10.1021/es203744g. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


A screening-level risk assessment of Q fever transmission through drinking water produced from groundwater in the vicinity of infected goat barnyards that employed aeration of the water was performed. Quantitative data from scientific literature were collected and a Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment approach was followed. An exposure model was developed to calculate the dose to which consumers of aerated groundwater are exposed through aerosols inhalation during showering. The exposure assessment and hazard characterization were integrated in a screening-level risk characterization using a dose-response model for inhalation to determine the risk of Q fever through tap water. A nominal range sensitivity analysis was performed. The estimated risk of disease was lower than 10(-4) per person per year (pppy), hence the risk of transmission of C. burnetii through inhalation of drinking water aerosols is very low. The sensitivity analysis shows that the most uncertain parameters are the aeration process, the transport of C. burnetii in bioaerosols via the air, the aerosolization of C. burnetii in the shower, and the air filtration efficiency. The risk was compared to direct airborne exposure of persons in the vicinity of infected goat farms; the relative risk of exposure through inhalation of drinking water aerosols was 0.002%.

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology
  • Air*
  • Animals
  • Coxiella burnetii / physiology*
  • Drinking Water / microbiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Goats / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Netherlands
  • Q Fever / microbiology*
  • Q Fever / transmission*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors


  • Drinking Water