People living in households without a regular source of safe drinking water need to take into account risks from bacteria in stored water and consider alternative treatment processes, according to a study led by a researcher from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
The issue is especially important in developing countries, where solutions for obtaining clean drinking water include treating water at home, as well as carrying water from the source and storing it at home, according to the study, “Reduction of Acid-Fast and Non-Acid-Fast Bacteria by Point of Use Coagulation-Flocculation-Disinfection.”
The paper was published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Dr. Lisa M. Casanova, assistant professor of environmental health at Georgia State was the lead author.
While point-of-use treatments have proven effective against microbial pathogens, bacteria can grow inside storage containers and recontaminate the treated water inside, the study notes. Non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM), which are found in water, have been known to cause illnesses in people with weakened immune systems, including those living with HIV/AIDS.
Mycobacteria typically are removed from drinking water by multi-barrier treatment systems that combine conventional processes: coagulation, settling and disinfection. But the researchers said they could not find evidence that point-of-use (POU) treatments have been evaluated for efficacy against non-tuberculosis mycobacteria. Testing whether those organisms can survive point-of-use treatment is especially important in developing countries, where a high rate of HIV often coexists with a lack of access to safe drinking water.
“POU treatment and safe storage interventions may need to take into account risks from viable NTM in treated stored water and consider alternative treatment processes such as filtration for physical removal […] to achieve NTM reductions from water,” the study stated.
Dr. Mark D. Sobsey with the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is co-author of the study.