Consumption of bivalve shellfish harvested from water contaminated with sewage pollution presents a risk of human infections and targeting control measures require a good understanding of environmental factors influencing the transport and the fate of faecal contaminants within the hydrological catchments. Although there has been extensive development of regression models, the point of this paper, focused on the relationship between rainfall events and concentrations of Escherichia coli monitored in clams, was the use of a Bayesian approach, by the Bayes Factor. The study was conducted on clams harvested from the south coast of Marche Region (Italy), a coastal area impacted by continuous treated effluents, intermittent rainfalldependent untreated sewage spillage - as a consequence of stormwater overflowing - and rivers with an ephemeral flow regime. The work compared the different interpretation criteria of Bayes Factor, confirmed that E. coli concentrations in clams from the studied area varied in correlation with rainfall events, and demonstrated the effectiveness of Bayes Factor in the assessment of shellfish quality in coastal marine waters. However, it suggested that further investigations would be warranted to determine which environmental factors provide the better basis for accurate and timely predictions. Furthermore the gathered data could be useful, to the local authorities of Marche Region, in the definition of flexible monitoring programmes, taking into account the atmospheric events that could affect the correct functioning of sewage managing systems and the flow of tributary rivers.
Bayes Factor; Clams; Escherichia coli; Faecal contamination; Norovirus