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Impact of in-Sewer Degradation of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) Population Markers on a Population Model

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journal contribution
posted on 28.02.2017, 00:00 authored by Jake William O’Brien, Andrew Phillip William Banks, Andrew Joseph Novic, Jochen F. Mueller, Guangming Jiang, Christoph Ort, Geoff Eaglesham, Zhiguo Yuan, Phong K. Thai
A key uncertainty of wastewater-based epidemiology is the size of the population which contributed to a given wastewater sample. We previously developed and validated a Bayesian inference model to estimate population size based on 14 population markers which: (1) are easily measured and (2) have mass loads which correlate with population size. However, the potential uncertainty of the model prediction due to in-sewer degradation of these markers was not evaluated. In this study, we addressed this gap by testing their stability under sewer conditions and assessed whether degradation impacts the model estimates. Five markers, which formed the core of our model, were stable in the sewers while the others were not. Our evaluation showed that the presence of unstable population markers in the model did not decrease the precision of the population estimates providing that stable markers such as acesulfame remained in the model. However, to achieve the minimum uncertainty in population estimates, we propose that the core markers to be included in population models for other sites should meet two additional criteria: (3) negligible degradation in wastewater to ensure the stability of chemicals during collection; and (4) < 10% in-sewer degradation could occur during the mean residence time of the sewer network.