Contamination in water

Water naturally spreads bacteria. Waste water from households, institutions and industry is collected at water treatment installations via sewers. It is then treated and discharged to surface water (canals and rivers). Together with the water from deeper strata in the ground, it is treated again to be supplied back to the consumers. In spite of the great care that is taken in the water treatment process, the recycled drinking water cannot be made fully bacteria free. Water utilities follow the standard of a maximum of 100 coliform bacteria per litre of the drinking water supplied, which is normally a safe concentration.

However, water pipes in larger buildings such as hospitals, institutions and hotels often run for several kilometres and can include sections with stagnant or slow-flowing water. These parts can develop biofilm, a slimy deposit on the pipe wall which is a natural nutrient medium for bacteria.

Under the right conditions (25 to 50 °C), bacteria can multiply extremely quickly. What entered the water pipe as a harmless concentration can reproduce within a few hours to reach a level that will cause illness, especially when this involves pathogenic species such as E. coli or Legionella pneumophila.

The result is that bacterial infections via the water occur with a certain degree of regularity. During a flower exhibition about 10 years ago, more than 450 people were infected by Legionella bacteria from atomized water, and 28 of them died. This example is still fresh in the memory, but it is only one of a series of bacterial infections since then. In early 2011, the dangerous EHEC variant of E. coli bacteria was found in the water being used to spray vegetables in Hessen (Germany). The result was that a number of people who ate the vegetables were infected.

Dit voorbeeld staat niet alleen in de reeks van bacteriële infecties via water sindsdien. Begin 2011 werd in Hessen (Duitsland) de gevaarlijke EHEC variant van de E.Coli bacterie in het water gevonden, waarmee groenten werden besproeid. Het resultaat was dat meerdere mensen, die van de groenten aten, liepen hierdoor dysenterie op.

Read more about micro-organisms in the environment...

Similarly, our water supply is exposed to the consequences of all kinds of assaults on the environment. Chlorine, which is added to eliminate micro-organisms, breaks down into the hazardous trihalomethanes, which can lead to sharply decreased thyroid function, particularly among children. Moreover, there are regular reports of increased levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), pesticides and herbicides in the groundwater. In recent years, there have been increasing reports that hormones and residues of medicines are being found in the water. Your water company cannot handle this high variety of pollutants.

If we do not purify the water, the body will do this, but often at the expense of our health.

In summary, we find:

Solid materials:

  • Pathogens, such as bacteria
  • Turbidity

Dissolved substances:

  • causing unpleasant taste and smell
  • Medicine residues
  • THM (chlorine residues)
  • Herbicides and pesticides
  • Lead, zinc and other heavy metals