Impacts of population growth, urbanisation and sanitation changes on global human Cryptosporidium emissions to surface water

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2016 Oct;219(7 Pt A):599-605. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2016.06.005. Epub 2016 Jun 15.


Cryptosporidium is a pathogenic protozoan parasite and is a leading cause of diarrhoea worldwide. The concentration of Cryptosporidium in the surface water is a determinant for probability of exposure and the risk of disease. Surface water concentrations are expected to change with population growth, urbanisation and changes in sanitation. The objective of this paper is to assess the importance of future changes in population, urbanisation and sanitation on global human emissions of Cryptosporidium to surface water. The GloWPa-Crypto H1 (the Global Waterborne Pathogen model for Human Cryptosporidium emissions version 1) model is presented and run for 2010 and with scenarios for 2050. The new scenarios are based on the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) developed for the climate community. The scenarios comprise assumptions on sanitation changes in line with the storylines and population and urbanisation changes from the SSPs. In SSP1 population growth is limited, urbanisation large and sanitation and waste water treatment strongly improve. SSP1* is the same as SSP1, but waste water treatment does not improve. SSP3 sees large population growth, moderate urbanisation and sanitation and waste water treatment fractions that are the same as in 2010. Total global Cryptosporidium emissions to surface water for 2010 are estimated to be 1.6×1017 oocysts per year, with hotspots in the most urbanised parts of the world. In 2050 emissions are expected to decrease by 24% or increase by 52% and 70% for SSP1, SSP3 and SSP1* respectively. The emissions increase in all scenarios for countries in the Middle East and Africa (MAF) region, while emissions in large parts in Europe decrease in scenarios SSP1 and SSP3. Improving sanitation by connecting the population to sewers, should be combined with waste water treatment, otherwise (SSP1*) emissions in 2050 are expected to be much larger than in a situation with strong population growth and slow development of safe water and improved sanitation (SSP3). The results show that population increase, urbanisation and changes in sanitation should be considered when water quality and resulting health risks are estimated by water managers or public health specialists.

Keywords: Global change; Modelling; SSP; Scenarios; Waterborne pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cryptosporidium / isolation & purification*
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Oocysts
  • Population Growth*
  • Sanitation*
  • Urbanization*
  • Water Pollutants / isolation & purification*


  • Water Pollutants