Airline water quality - Airline information

Airline water quality

Our monthly poll is focusing on the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) latest report of dangerous levels of coliform bacteria in 17.2% water samples from galley water taps as well as lavatory faucets of the 169 planes it spot checked. This is rather stunning considering last year the EPA’s study showed dangerous levels of bacteria in 12.5% of the planes the EPA checked.

One would have thought that the airlines would have taken extraordinary steps to eliminate this problem after last years results .

According to the EPA , total coliform on their own are not considered dangerous but rather that their presence in water may signal the presence of other pathogens. They go on to discuss E Coli as a subset of coliforms and state :

“Most E. coli are harmless. Some strains, however, may cause illness – diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. The presence of E. coli or fecal coliform in a drinking water sample may indicate human or animal fecal contamination – meaning that pathogens may be present. ”

They also state in their report that : “If total coliform is present in a drinking water sample, EPA requires that it also be tested for E. coli or fecal coliform.”

And yet the report never clearly states if these test for E – Coli have been done . What they do say is that 24 airlines have agreed to “routinely disinfect their water supplies and monitor water quality in response to the EPA study”.

The 24 airlines participating are AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, Aloha Airlines, American Airlines, America West, ATA Airlines, Champion Air, Continental Airlines, Continental Micronesia, Falcon Air Express, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Miami Air International, Midwest Airlines, North American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Pace Airlines, Ryan International Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, USA 3000 Airlines, and World Airways have agreed to monitor their water systems and to immediately suspend water supplies in any tests that show contamination.

Having read the details, do you consider the airlines are doing enough to ensure they are serving you safe drinking water?


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