Biofouling: Can It Trigger Allergies From Drinking Water?

One of the most common physical occurrences in marine science is the accumulation of   microorganisms, algae, mussels, seaweed, plants and other water-related growth that is attached to the hull of ships or on the posts of a pier. Such undesirable growth decreases the performance of a ship and increases fuel consumption. This accumulation is called biofouling or microbiological fouling. Biofouling consists of biofilms, which under normal circumstances are harmless, but can be problematic when they produce build-up on pipes and wells, or completely clog water filtration systems.

Waterborne bacteria and other contaminants can trigger allergic reactions, but you can do something to thwart these harmful pollutants from infiltrating your drinking water supply. Water test kits are available to easily check for waterborne contaminants in your drinking water. If you are in an area where you experience more comprehensive problems with your drinking water, then you will probably need an expert to test your water and advise accordingly. Often water-related allergies associated with biofouling result from improperly maintained water filtration systems, cartridges, filters or membranes that are long overdue for replacement.

Cooling towers, water distribution networks and membranes are not immune to biofouling. If membrane filtration or reverse osmosis systems contain the presence of a huge amount of phosphate, this could reduce production of your system, decrease the life of the membrane for your water filter system and increase maintenance costs. In a cooling tower, the presence of biofouling can lead to an excessive amount of harmful bacteria growth and migration. Biocides are used to prevent biofouling in cooling towers, but could create an environmental concern.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established enforceable standards to apply to public water systems called National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR). According to the EPA, primary standards protect public health by limiting the levels of contaminants in drinking water. The typical agents for microbiological fouling include iron, sulfur-reducing and slime producing organisms, although many others exist. Your drinking water will contain some type of sediment, rust, scale or other waterborne pollutants that could create an environment for biofouling in the walls and membrane of your filtration system. This could lead to water-related allergies or diseases if precautions and proper maintenance are not taken ahead of time.

Are You Participating in World Water Monitoring Day?

Certain scenes from old western movies showed cowboys stopping to sojourn at a nearby watering hole to fill their canteens and continue on their cross-country journey without dying from thirst. We did not see these cowboys or the convoy of covered wagons take out their water testing kits to see what waterborne pollutants lurked in the water before they drank it. It was not needed as much then as it is now.

World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD), an international education and outreach program, builds public awareness and involvement for protecting water resources around the world. WWMD encourages individuals to conduct basic testing and monitoring of their local bodies of water. Participants can use water test kits to take samples of local water and keep track of water quality parameters such as temperature, acidity, clarity and dissolved oxygen. Results are shared with global participating communities on the WWMD website.

Officially, World Water Monitoring Day is celebrated on September 18. The monitoring window was extended from March 22 (World Water Day) through December 31. The coordinators of World Water Monitoring Day, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA) are planning to expand participation in 100 countries to one million people by 2012.

Today we are facing a myriad of contaminants lurking in our outdoor water supply that stifles our ability to “dip and sip” like we once did. Even if we do not drink water from a nearby pond, lake or stream, the condition of this water still affects wildlife, the environment, fish and other water-abiding creatures.

If you have not tested your home drinking water lately, it does not hurt to sporadically do so regardless of whether you have well water or municipal water. You may be surprised by your test results.  What you do not know just may be hazardous to your health. Remember, there is still time to submit your data to the WWMD database before the December 31 deadline.


Aquabox: Rapid Response for Safe Drinking Water

AquaboxImagine creating a plastic box that would serve a multifunctional purpose for disaster victims. Aquabox, a charitable company registered in England, provides boxes for water purification to dispatch to areas where severe disasters strike. The aftermath of a disaster can leave victims in desperate need of core necessities like food, water and shelter. One of the most urgent challenges for disaster relief agencies is getting fresh, clean drinking water to those victims. Sometimes polluted water is the only source of water. Waterborne contaminants can rapidly cause epidemics such as typhoid and cholera. Many of the outbreaks of disease and infection that result from drinking polluted water could often lead to dehydration and diarrhea, particularly striking the very young.

Aquabox is a robust plastic tank packed with water purification tablets and essential welfare items for a disaster situation. Once the welfare contents have been removed, each Aquabox can be used to purify up to 1100 liters of polluted water, making it safe and pleasant to drink. For example, 1100 liters is equal to 5,000 cups. This is enough safe drinking water for a family of four to consume 10 cups of water per day, for about four months.

This survival box is filled with welfare items such as warm clothing, kitchen utensils, hygiene items and other general hardware. The actual contents depend on the individual or organization that donated and filled the box. By the millennium, Aquabox provided more than 20,000 boxes covering over 30 countries. During the past several years, many aid agencies received and monitored boxes such as Children’s Aid Direct, Feed the Children, Christian African Relief Trust, Containers of Hope and Nottingham Police Aid Convoys.

Clean drinking water can mean the difference between life and death. In the wake of mammoth disasters, natural and manmade, Aquabox is dispatched to areas in dire need of safe drinking water. Under the provisions of their charitable status, Aquabox seeks a donation in return for the box rather than making an outright sale. Aquabox can play a vital part in minimizing the after effects of a disaster.