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Water recycling — forwards or backwards for public health?

Karin S Leder, Joanne E O’Toole and Martha I Sinclair
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (6): 293-294.
Published online: 16 March 2009

A stringent, preventive risk-management approach could ensure potable reuse is a safe option

As a result of prolonged drought, Australians are increasingly relying on alternative water sources — including rainwater, greywater, and water recycled from stormwater or sewage — for many community and household uses. Health professionals therefore need to be aware of the likelihood, if any, of illness related to water usage. In particular, careful consideration should be given to the safety of water recycling, especially as, at face value, it seems to represent a backward step from John Snow’s mid 19th century discovery of the importance of keeping drinking water and sewage separate.1 The obvious question is: is water recycling safe?

  • Karin S Leder1,2
  • Joanne E O’Toole1
  • Martha I Sinclair1

  • 1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.


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