Assessing plumbing systems can sometime feel like a task which you are going to be inherently blind in. After all, regular testing is important however pinpointing the exact location of clusters can often be difficult. Luckily, there appears to be a new model which may help public health authorities assess water quality.
According to one of the co-authors and civil and environmental engineering professor Wen-Tso Liu, “(P)revious studies have relied on reproducing the conditions of a stagnant plumbing system within a lab setting,” however for this study, the team was “able to collect samples in a real-life situation.”
The team collected water samples from three University of Illinois dormitory buildings while they were closed during a school break. They then took samples from sink taps before the building closure, i.e. while the water was relatively fresh from the city supply, and again after the water stagnated within the interior plumbing for a week.
The lab results suggested that the post-stagnation samples closest to the actual taps actually contained the highest levels of bacteria. In addition, the team also found that bacteria concentrations decreased significantly as one moved away from a tap. Before moving forward, it is important to note that none of the samples contained cells concentrations that present a public health risk.
These results, according to Mr. Liu, “suggest that the increase in bacteria in the post-stagnation samples is a result of something occurring in the interior plumbing, not the outside city source, and in pipe segments closest to the taps,”.
On a more practical level, the model allows a useful tool for public health officials. According to Liu, “We only need two samples – one before stagnation and one after – and we can determine how extensive the microbe growth is inside in-premise pipes, and we can now do so without destroying property,”.
Another interesting finding was that bacterial concentrations are the highest within the first 100 milliliters of tap flow. As such, Mr. Liu recommends people run taps for a little after being away from home for awhile.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.