Learn More: Microorganisms

Learn More: Microorganisms
Of the many microrganisms in our environment, those of most concern in water supplies include bacteria, viruses, and protozoans.

A microorganism, or microbe, is an organism so small that it can only be seen under a microscope. While countless harmless – even beneficial - microorganisms exist all around us, infectious microbes can cause illness or disease.

Pathogenic Bacteria

While infrequent in municipal water supplies, pathogenic bacteria can be found in unchlorinated private water supplies and stored water.

Escherichia coli: Better known as E. coli, is a type of fecal coliform bacteria found in the intestines of animals and humans. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination. Although most strains of E.coli live harmlessly in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, there is a strain that produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness.

Salmonella Enterica: Most commonly spread by improper handling of raw food such as chicken, Salmonella has also been associated with outbreaks from contaminated drinking water.

Protozoans and Waterborne Cysts:

Waterborne cysts are very common and found in most water sources.

Cryptosporidium and Giardia: Giardiasis and Cryptosporidiosis are flu-like illnesses with symptoms involving persistent diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, weight loss and sometimes dehydration.

Note: Because of their resistance to disinfection, Giardia and Cryptosporidium are now the most commonly identified causes of waterborne illness in the United States.

Public water supply treatment

Public water systems use many water treatment methods to provide safe drinking water. The most commonly used treatment method is disinfection with chlorine chemicals.

Home water treatment

Home water treatment devices treat water either where it enters into the home (point-of-entry treatment devices) or where the water comes out of the tap (point-of-use treatment devices). Treatment systems may include Ultraviolet (UV) light, Ultrafiltration, or Reverse Osmosis.

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