Reducing the Health Risks of Using Wastewater in Agriculture: Recommended Changes to WHO Guidelines

U.J. Blumenthal, D.D. Mara, A. Peasey, G. Ruiz-Palacios and R. Stott

In: UA Magazine 3 - Health aspects of urban agriculture

In many areas of the world, urban agriculture depends on water supplies for irrigation. Water is often extracted from rivers, and these may be contaminated with wastewater, discharged into the river with little or no prior treatment. In some areas, untreated wastewater is used for irrigation directly. Use of both can increase the risk of gastro-intestinal diseases for farm workers and their families, and for the consumers of the crops. Policy makers and farmers need to know what quality of water they can use, and what forms of wastewater treatment (or other health protection measures) can be employed. As the water available for irrigation often does not meet national standards or international guidelines for wastewater reuse, this poses a challenge to the safe development of urban agriculture.