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#97171 - 06/11/07 03:54 PM School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains
gatormba Offline

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 136
Loc: Alabama
Given that water quality is often a topic discussed on ETS I thought this article was somewhat interesting for those of us that have children in school. Although I suspect that the same could hold true for any public water fountain.

"It's a legal system, not a justice system!"

#97175 - 06/11/07 04:33 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: gatormba]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2184
Loc: Deep south... Carolina
I guess the dog was right all along.

#97183 - 06/11/07 05:01 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: MDinana]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
Good one!!!

#97191 - 06/11/07 05:44 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: OldBaldGuy]
Stretch Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 707
Loc: Alamogordo, NM
Hmmmm. I wonder what types of bacteria were found in the fountain sample(s).....and whether they contained a minute amount of harmful bacteria or a large amount of harmless bacteria.

....maybe the toilet water didn;t show any bacteria because they had just been cleaned. As the article said, the terlets are cleansed with chemicals.

I'm just thinking here........

Maybe one more sample-set was needed to help validate the comparison. That being a swab or two from the inside of a student volunteer's mouth. (preferrably a student who had not drunk water from either of the other sample sources).

#97195 - 06/11/07 06:50 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: Stretch]
LED Offline

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
2 images come to mind. One is when you see people drinking from water fountains and they put their mouths right over the spout so that that all the backflow washes right over the spout. And Two is when you see kids put their mouths directly on the water nozzle, and of course, you also have the backflow issue. Probably not a big deal as far as catching anything is concerned but its enough to make me stop using water fountains.

#97198 - 06/11/07 07:07 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: LED]
DesertFox Offline

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 339
Loc: New York, NY
Be interesting to see results of tests of the bottled water. We assume its germ-free because its in a bottle, but with all the food products being recalled, that may not be a safe assumption.

#97208 - 06/11/07 07:47 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: Stretch]
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
A number of years ago our lab was asked by our Safety Department to check water samples from various water fountains for bacterial contamination and chlorine levels. We found many to be contaminated with a wide variety of bacteria. Upon examining the possible cause for the contamination we noted that water fountains that were not used on a regular basis (at least several times per day) had a significant degree of contamination and those with pre-filters (activated carbon within a fiberglass spun filter) had the highest level of bacterial contamination.

We attributed the findings to two observations:

Water fountains (at least ours) all have reservoir where the cooled water is stored and those water fountains with little use had, over time, become contaminated by backwash and since they were not being flushed regularly by use, the chlorine levels were zero and not being replaced by freshly chlorinated water. By having occupants flush these fountains daily, the bacterial contamination went to zero.

With the water fountains that had pre-filters installed, despite their regular use, the activated charcoal was removing the chlorine and once again, backwash was causing the contamination. The pre-filters were removed and bacterial contamination went to zero.


#97211 - 06/11/07 09:02 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: paramedicpete]
Stretch Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 707
Loc: Alamogordo, NM
Still, though, I'm curious as to the *type* of bacteria the student found. Our hands and mouths are bacteria-ridden, but they're usually bacteria that our bodies deal with daily. I wonder how much and what types of bacteria we'd find if we tested a freshly made sandwhich (whole wheat bread, of course).

As far as bottled water goes, I'd like to see that tested too (again, for bacteria TYPE) and thought of mentioning it the first time around.

Is there not bacteria in our bloodstream? And.......is all bacteria bad for our health? (I really don;t know the answer to these)

#97215 - 06/11/07 09:40 PM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: gatormba]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: gatormba
Although I suspect that the same could hold true for any public water fountain.

From what I can read in the article, it sounds like it's less a "water" issue than a "surface cleanliness" issue. I mean, the same water is coming out of both. To me, the question this little science project addresses is whether the spigot or the toilet bowl rim has more bacteria on their surfaces. I wouldn't be surprised if the actual water shooting out of the water fountain and into their mouths has very few bacteria in it from the spigot.

Stretch raises a good point about what kind of bacteria is involved. We don't know, from the article. Another unkown that I just mentioned is the number of bacteria in the actual water. We're exposed to bugs that can make us sick every day, but usually in such low numbers that our body's natural defenses (like stomach acid) handily keeps most of them at bay.

Pete mentioned some very interesting results, including the results of some interventions. However, the school may not have these electrically powered, cooling water fountains with holding tanks. Maybe they're just the kinds that are hooked directly into the water system. Ahhh, all those fond memories of gulping down a bellyful of water at recess...

#97243 - 06/12/07 05:10 AM Re: School Toilet Water is Cleaner than Fountains [Re: Arney]
Chisel Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 1155

I would suggest analyzing for other stuff in those little-used fountains. Harmful contamination is not restricted to bacteria, it can be anything from heavy (toxic) metals to harmful polymers (depending on the kind of plumbing).

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