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The former head of the EPA’s Drinking Water Standards Division is calling for action to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases.

In the latest issue of the Journal of the American Water Works Association, Joseph A. Cotruvo, PhD, wrote that legionellosis “is now the most significant waterborne-disease risk associated with drinking water in the United States.”

According to the CDC, 19 out of 33 waterborne disease outbreaks in plumbing systems or from drinking water supplies in the United States from 2009-10 resulted from Legionella bacteria.  Further, a study found that Legionnaires’ disease has a 40% mortality rate if acquired in hospitals.

“As a matter of public health protection, appropriate supplemental water treatment measures must be applied to reduce those risks, especially among high-risk populations,” said Cotruvo.

The article argues that the supplemental disinfection measures should be regulated by the federal and state governments and that simply making adjustments to the current regulations in place would save thousands of lives.

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