Germs in drinking water in public buildings

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Drinking water in public buildings is contaminated with germs

The drinking water from pipes in public buildings is often contaminated with harmful germs. TÜV Rheinland has identified harmful germs in around every third water sample examined from 25 publicly accessible buildings. Conclusion of the TÜV: Visitors should be careful when drinking water in public buildings.

Together with the magazine “Bild der Frau”, the TÜV Rheinland carried out a nationwide drinking water test in public, particularly high-traffic buildings. The result was terrifying. "Every third water sample is contaminated," said the expert for microbiology at TÜV Rheinland, Dr. Walter Dormagen, in a corresponding press release. Among other things, the TÜV found pseudomonas and legionella, the latter in particular pose a significant health risk.

25 drinking water samples examined for germs TÜV Rheinland analyzed 25 drinking water samples from public buildings in Cologne, Munich, Leipzig, Berlin and Hamburg for "Image of the Woman". The samples were "not taken in accordance with the Drinking Water Ordinance, according to which, for example, the faucet must be flamed before it is removed", but simply tapped from the tap according to the circumstances, the TÜV reports. The aim was to check the water quality in publicly accessible washrooms and toilets in train stations, town halls, universities, a hospital and a shopping center. The bacterial load in the drinking water was measured in "colony-forming units, also known as KBE", explained Dr. Dormagen. The higher the number of CFU, “the more contaminated the sample is.” The drinking water ordinance stipulates 100 CFU per milliliter. However, this value was exceeded in several drinking water samples from the public buildings - with a particularly strongly contaminated sample from the Leipzig St. Georg clinic, even five times. Around 600 CFU per milliliter were found here.

Hospital germs in drinking water In three samples from Munich, Leipzig and Hamburg, the pseudomonads known as hospital germs were detected, which can lead to delays in wound healing and which may trigger inflammatory processes in the body. According to the TÜV, once the pseudomonas have settled in the drinking water pipes, they are “difficult to remove.” Bacteria that settle in the pipes form a biofilm around them, a kind of mucus that makes removal much more difficult. In addition, many pseudomonas develop or have developed resistance to antibiotics.

Health risk from legionella In the drinking water samples from Cologne City Hall and from the train station in Cologne and Friedrichstadt Passagen in Berlin, the TÜV determined that the legionella contained in the limit was exceeded. This is particularly critical since Legionella is inhaled as so-called aerosols (tiny water droplets in the air) and can thus cause life-threatening lung diseases. Legionella multiply particularly strongly in standing water and at temperatures between 30 and 45 degrees Celsius. According to the TÜV Rheinland, "more people die from this unusual pneumonia caused by Legionella than on the road every year."

Avoiding the contamination of drinking water with bacteria Before the results of the investigation were published, TÜV Rheinland and “Bild der Frau” had already informed the facilities concerned about the contamination of drinking water with the bacteria in order to avoid possible health risks for the population. "Almost all operators responded within a few hours, thanked them for the information and initiated immediate measures," said the press release from TÜV Rheinland. According to the experts, the results of the investigation suggest that the bacterial contamination is not due to the quality of the drinking water, but to the piping system in the buildings. This is a problem that can also hit private households. Such germ contamination can be prevented by intact pipelines, hot water temperatures of at least 50 degrees and clean aerators and shower heads, according to the TÜV. (fp)

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