News Items

Removing endocrine disruptors using light (Posted 14/06/2021)
Workers in Germany have developed a new chemical process for removing hormones from water. It takes advantage of the mechanisms of photocatalysis and transforms the pollutants into potentially safe oxidation products. It is not at the stage where it can be used in full scale water treatment.

Removing salts and other materials from water. (Posted 14/06/2021)
Researchers have created a molecule-sized water transport channel that can carry water between cells while excluding protons and undesired molecules. These channels mimic the water transport functions of proteins in our bodies known as aquaporins. They could improve the ability of membranes to efficiently filter out unwanted molecules and elements, while speeding up water transport, making it cheaper to create a clean supply.

PFAS in US bottled waters. (Posted 14/06/2021)
39 of 101 products tested were positive for PFAS with purified water containing less than spring water. Although no enforceable PFAS regulations exist for bottled water in the U.S., the finding that some products approach levels of concern justifies a framework for monitoring PFAS in bottled water production.

Risk of groundwater contamination widely underestimated because of fast flow into aquifers (Posted 10/06/2021)
This paper shows that in karst regions, which are characterized by an increased occurrence of cracks or fissures, the risk of pollution by degradable pollutants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals or pathogens is significantly higher than previously expected. Although pollutants are considered short-lived, up to 50 percent of them can still reach groundwater, depending on the period of their decomposition.

Fluoride in water and incidence of hip fracture in post-menopausal women. (Posted 30/05/2021)
This Swedish study population consisted solely of middle-aged to elderly women in Sweden, and thus its findings may not apply to other population subgroups or to women in other countries. However it suggest that long-term consumption of tap water with a fluoride concentration of 1mg/L, which is below the 1.5mg/L maximum concentration recommended by the WHO, may adversely affect bone health in postmenopausal women.

Effectiveness of methods for boiling water in domestic situations (Posted 30/05/2021)
This study carried out in rural China showed that boiling water in open pots is less effective than in lidded kettles. Bottled water was found to frequently have high levels of total coliforms despite which a relatively high proportion of rural households tused bottled water as their primary source of drinking water.

Removal of antibiotic resistance genes by water treatment processes (Posted 13/05/2021)
This laboratory study looks at the effect of ozone, chlorine and u-v on bacterial cells and antibiotic resistance genes (ARG) in water. While the impact of ozone was similar on bacterial cells and ARG, for chlorine and UV, inactivation of bacterial cells was observed at lower doses than those needed for the decrease of ARG copy numbers. Although UV and chlorine treatments were effective in the inactivation of bacterial cells, incomplete degradation of ARGs was observed. Therefore, plasmid-borne ARGs can potentially be transferred to other bacteria even after the disinfection.

Metformin as an endocrine disruptor. (Posted 08/05/2021)
Laboratory studies using fathead minows showed that metformin acts as an endocrine disruptor at environmentally relevant concentrations.

Metformin no risk to aquatic life. (Posted 08/05/2021)
This very comprehensive paper concludes that based on predicted environmental concentrations and predicted no effect concentrations there is no risk to aquatic life from metformin nor its metabolite guanylurea.

One step purification and desalination (Posted 28/04/2021)
This paper describes the development of robust, selective, and tunable adsorptive membranes that feature porous aromatic framework nanoparticles embedded within ion exchange polymers and demonstrate their use in an efficient, one-step separation strategy.

Fast, selective, DNA‐based detection of Escherichia coli (Posted 26/03/2021)
A recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) can amplify and detect E. coli DNA in fewer than 3 min. Although the RPA method was less sensitive than qPCR, it was significantly more rapid. The speed, selectivity and isothermal low temperature requirements of the RPA technique make it well‐suited for on‐site water quality testing. The current LOD for the method would limit its application to relatively high‐level contamination events, for example sewerage overflows/leaks. The authors suggest considering using mRNA primers to negate the impact of dead cells. ( this is very much “work in progress” but offers potential)

Legionellae in water systems in Spain (Posted 26/03/2021)
A Spanish survey was carried out on c.1750 samples from cooling towers and evaporative condensers (CTC), and water distribution networks such as domestic hot water (DHW), cold water for human consumption (CW), sprinkler irrigation systems (SIS), fire sprinkler systems (FSS), and water from decorative fountains (DF). Legionellae were found in 15.79% of all samples and Legionella non-pneumophila was isolated from 13 of the 18 locations sampled with Legionella pneumophila being isolated with similar frequency .High colonization was more frequently detected.

Toxic cyanobacteria in water (Posted 26/03/2021)
WHO has published an updated 2nd edition of its 1999 Guide which presents the current state of knowledge on the occurrence of cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins, as well as their impacts on health through water-related exposure pathways, chiefly drinking-water and recreational activity.

Waterborne Disease Outbreak Investigation Toolkit (Posted 26/03/2021)
The US CDC has published a toolkit describing best practices in preparing for, identifying, and remediating a waterborne disease outbreak.

Microplastics in fresh and drinkng water (Posted 12/03/2021)
This paper reviewed 50 published sudies on microplastics in lake water, groundwater, tap water and bottled drinking water. Only four of the studies received positive scores for all proposed quality criteria, implying there is a significant need to improve quality assurance of microplastic sampling and analysis in water samples.

Nitrate in drinking water and foetal development (Posted 12/03/2021)
A Danish study of 898,206 births over 20 years showed a small reduction in birth weight and body length associated with maternal nitrate consumption but little evidence for an association between nitrate and head circumference or low birth weight.. The paper includes several caveats.

Comparison of phosphate and silicate for reducing plumbosolvency. (Posted 04/03/2021)
Pilot scale studies showed that orthophosphate dosing with pH aadjustment was more effective than sodium silicate in reducing lead release from pipes although silicate resulted in lower levels of biofilm accumulation on pipe walls.

Microbial community and pipe materials in unchlorinated water and biofilms. (Posted 04/03/2021)
Workers in the Netherlands have shown that unchlorinated PVC is the preferred material to control microbial growth in drinking water systems while fungi are dominant in water and V. vermiformis is dominant in biofilm.

Hydraulic transients can mobilise material from pipework (Posted 28/02/2021)
This study shows that transient presure events mobilise deposits in mains and mobilisation always occurs in the first dynamic surge of the transient.

Viable but non-culturable bacteria(VBNC) in drinking water treatment plants (Posted 24/02/2021)
Workers in China have shown significant quantities of viable/VBNC opportunistic pathogens in full-scale DWTPs, confirming that traditional, culture-dependent methods are inadequate for detecting VBNC bacteria.

Metformin chlorination by-products (Posted 24/02/2021)
Metformin usage is growing and is likely to continue. It is not metabolised by humans and therefore is found in wastewater worldwide.This paper concludes that the current doses of MET present in drinking water are not of direct safety concern to humans, however the potential threats of its chlorination byproducts should not be ignored.

Mn in Drinking water and ADHD (Posted 24/02/2021)
This Danish study concludes that Mn in drinking water was associated with ADHD, specifically the ADHD-Inattentive subtype. Its results support earlier studies suggesting a need for a formal health-based drinking water guideline value for Mn.

Cryptosporidium spp. and their detection in water (Posted 17/02/21)
This review discusses Cryptosporidium and methods available for their detection including microscopy, immunology, nucleic acid-based methods and DNA aptamers. Aptamer-based detection is developing and has higher sensitivity and specificity as well as performing better in environmental samples with PCR inhibitors.

Accumulation of antibiotic resistnce genes (ARG) during backwash of biological activated carbon (BAC) filters. (Posted 11/02/21)
This study was conducted to investigate the occurrence of ARGs in full-scale BAC filters during the backwash cycle using high-throughput qPCR and high-throughput sequencing. After backwashing, the relative ARGs abundance increased by 1.5- to 3.8-folds and the absolute ARGs abundance increased by 0.90- to 1.12-logs in all biofilm samples during filter ripening, indicating that ARGs accumulated in filters during this period. The authors consider that given the high richness and relative abundance of ARGs in BAC filter and the ineffectiveness of backwashing in ARG removal, more stringent downstream disinfection strategies are deserved and more research is necessary to assess potential human health risks due to the persistence of ARGs in drinking water.

New Drinking Water Directive (Posted 11/02/21)
On 16 December 2020 the European Parliament formally adopted a revised Drinking Water Directive which came into force on January 12th 2021.After Brexit the UK is not obliged to adopt the new Directive but it is anticipated to have regard to it in future regulation.

Reactivity directed analysis (Posted 11/02/21)
This critical review introduces the application of a novel approach called Reactivity-Directed Analysis (RDA) to assess and identify organic electrophiles, the largest group of known environmental toxicants. In contrast to existing in vivo and in vitro approaches, RDA utilizes in chemico methodologies that investigate the re action of organic electrophiles with nucleophilic biomolecules, including proteins and DNA This summary is followed by an overview of existing RDA approaches and their application for the assessment of aqueous environmental matrices, with an emphasis on drinking water.

Harmful algal blooms in the USA. (Posted 04/02/21)
18 US states entered 421 reports on the One Health Harmful Algal Bloom System during 2016–2018, including information about 389 human illnesses and at least 413 animal illnesses associated with harmful algal bloom events. The report recognises a number of limitations in its content but further developments can be anticipated.

Waterborne disease in the USA. (Posted 28/01/21)
This very comprehensive study by no less than 21 authors looks at data from 2000 to 2015 and shows that domestic waterborne transmission of 17 diseases in the United States caused ≈7.15 million (95% CrI 3.88–12.0 million) waterborne illnesses to occur annually during the study period, including 601,000 ED visits (95% CrI 364,000–866,000), 118,000 hospitalizations (95% CrI 86,800–150,000), and 6,630 deaths (95% CrI 4,520–8,870), and incurred $3.33 billion (95% CrI $1.31–$8.71 billion) in hospitalization and ED visit costs. This estimate includes drinking, recreational, and environmental water exposures. The report however contains many caveats and its findings shouldbe viewed with caution.

Sodium silicate and plumboslvency (Posted 28/01/21)
This paper suggests that as a corrosion control treatment for lead, sodium silicate is inferior to orthophosphate in circumneutral pH water with low alkalinity. and, as with polyphosphate, excess silicate can be highly detrimental to controlling lead release.

Rapid detection of cyanobacteria (Posted 05/01/2021)
This thesis describes the application of in situ fluorometers for monitoring algal blooms in water supply systems, giving results in minutes facilitating the timely adjustement of PAC and coagulant dosing.