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E-Coli/Bacteria in Water?

(7 Posts)
suedonim Mon 26-Feb-07 19:02:02

Can anyone with a scientific mind interpret these test results on our tap water, please?

The December and January levels of coliform were 880 cfu/ml and then 68 cfu/ml. Of the latter, 62 were E-coli, one was enterobacter and five were pseudomonas aeruginosa. The WHO standard is zero. Residual chlorine levels in each month were 0.03mg/l and Not Recorded.

Are these levels dangerous to health? What illnesses, if any, can you get from these levels and can you get an infection via the skin as well as by accidentally ingesting such water maybe when having a shower? Can bacteria be left on items of washing up? (We have separate bottled drinking water btw, we never drink the tap water.)

Thanks if you've got this far!

MrsBadger Mon 26-Feb-07 19:04:58

I'm about to log off but I should have access to all this stuff at work (and understood 100% of your post ) so will come on tomorrow and see if I can do some interpretation for you

Whizzz Mon 26-Feb-07 19:12:25

info here

Whizzz Mon 26-Feb-07 19:14:08

and here

suedonim Mon 26-Feb-07 19:36:00

Thank you, both. Mrs Badger, I'm intrigued as to your work, now!

I forgot to say, we're in W Africa hence dodgy water. Dh thinks the water plant for the apartments isn't working properly so is gathering ammunition. There's a new baby in one aprt, which is another concern, esp as she is being bottle-fed.

MrsBadger Tue 27-Feb-07 09:32:41

Well, you beat me to the WHO levels, which is what I was going to refer to.

The E.coli and enterobacteriacae found are indicators of faecal contamination of the water, meaning either it's getting dirty between the plant and your tap (unlikely) or that the plant isn't working properly (if it's meant to remove all contamination).

The E.coli and the enterobacter can cause stomach upsets in large doses. However not all strains are pathogenic so the chances are that of the 63 found very few will actually cause disease in a healthy individual if they drink the water.

Pseudomonas is an environmental bacteria - the kind of thing that's found on the inside of pipes etc - and isn't really a worry as it's neither a marker of faecal contamination nor a pathogen but it might be an indicator that the plant isn't being cleaned / flushed efficiently.

None of these organisms should cause skin infections from showering, but none of them are good things to get into a wound.

All the bacteria found are sensitive to heat, detergent and dessication (ie they die when they dry out), so if you wash things in hot soapy water and leave them to air dry there should be no bacteria left on them when you come to use them.
Damp sponges, dishcloths etc are another matter though - wash / boil / bleach / bin them regularly.

So long as the baby upstairs is having bottles made up with boiled water (or bottled like you drink) she should be ok.

It does sound like a good idea to get this sorted as soon as possible, because a poorly-functioning plant can be worse than none at all, as it can harbour all sorts of nasties in the filters if the flow isn't right or it's not cleaned properly.

Hope this helps a bit - I trained as a microbiologist but moved sideways into a related field and it's been a while since I got my water notes out!

suedonim Tue 27-Feb-07 14:47:07

Oh thank you so much MrsBadger, that's just great! The state of the water plant is pretty yuk - green slime in the tanks and so on.

We are concerned about the baby because the parents are abroad atm and she's being looked after by a couple of young girls who I'm not altogether sure know what they're doing. Dh has visions of them just giving the bottles a quick rinse under the tap or similar.

I forgot to say, we also have lead in the water - but we all know lead's bad for you so no need for that to be explained!

Once again, thank you. Isn't Mumsnet just the tops!

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