PATHO-AIR - Use of retention basins in managing storm water: Evaluation of the exposure of neighbouring populations and operators to bioaerosols and pathogenic bacteria (2015)

Scientific coordinator: Didier Blaha (LEM)
Disciplines: Microbiology – Climatology and risk
Laboratories: LEM – EVS – IRPHIL



The urban environment today concentrates most of the global population and this process does not seem likely to change. As such, town and cities have organised themselves accordingly and significant environmental changes have followed. The water cycle has been particularly disrupted, which has led to the emergence of new risks for societies and their environments, with a concentration of storm water and the contamination of this resource, in connection with the human demographic expansion and industrialisation. So called 'alternative' storm water management strategies have been set up to try to remedy these problems, notably by storing rain water for a certain amount of time in bioretention basins. This practice makes it possible to reduce flows and flooding, depollute the retained water and lessen the impact on receiving environments. These bioretention basins may be situated in the heart of the urban environment and may also be used for landscaping, entertainment or sporting purposes, thus exposing various nearby populations to contaminants from urban storm water. The PATHO-AIR project thus proposes to better assess the risks of exposure to these opportunistic pathogenic bacteria. More precisely, air movements, temperature and rainfall will be taken into account with regard to the formation and transport of bioaerosols containing pathogenic bacteria, using precise, timely measurements. For more overall risk management, furthermore, a study of the vulnerability of the exposed populations will be conducted using multicriteria hierarchical methods to establish vulnerability profiles (factors), resulting in a detailed mapping to assist in decision making. At the same time, a sociological and psycho-sociological study will be conducted among inhabitants living close to bioretention basins, as well as among technical operators working at these sites. This study will examine the representations and perceptions of bioaerosols among civil and professional populations, in order to establish a data matrix on knowledge levels with regard to these bioretention basis and their associated micropollutants, based on semi-directed surveys of inhabitants and operators. Ultimately, the purpose of the results obtained will be to assist the scientific community and decision-makers in the transmission and disclosure of knowledge concerning pathogenic bacteria and the risks linked to bioretention basins.