refilling water bottles

  1. bottled trouble? Air Date: 2/27/2003
    Station: KXAS Fort Worth, TX
    Reporter name: Deborah Ferguson
    Reporter email: Deborah.Ferguson@nbc.com

    COULD REFILLING YOUR WATER BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH? EXPERTS SAY WATCH OUT!


    You know that water bottle you refill all day long, trying to get in those 8 healthy glasses?

    Well, you could be doing a lot more than quenching your thirst.

    Before you fill'er up again, you may want to think twice! Health experts say reusing water bottles intended for single use can breed harmful bacteria.

    So, we set out to investigate just how many germs are on typical bottles of typical people who reuse and refill their water bottles in the course of their everyday lives. We asked 12 people to hand over the bottles they used for an entire week.

    The tests were overseen by Dr. Peter Kmieck, a microbiologist at Kappa Labs in Miami, Florida. His lab routinely conducts tests for the federal government. For the test, our subjects' bottles and water samples were carefully logged and tested for coliforms-a signal, Dr. Kmieck says, of something potentially serious.

    We also conducted the tests with the input of Dr Cathy Ryan. She is Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Dr. Ryan began studying bacteria growth in water bottles when her son's school asked for a water bottle at the beginning of the year, which was to remain at school and be reused over and over.

    She conducted tests and found fecal coliform in some of the bottles.
    For more on Dr Ryan's test, click here and the information will be sent to you.

    How does bacteria get on the bottles and in the water? According to experts, bacteria can feast on food particles, saliva and sweat that are deposited in reused bottles.

    The results?
    Out of the 12 water bottles tested, 6 came back with coliform bacteria too numerous to count.
    "The results were very interesting. Out of the gate, we had 50 percent of the samples showing to be non-potable," says Dr. Kmieck, meaning the water is considered undrinkable. "50 percent is a high number," he adds.

    Dr. Ryan adds, "If this was a domestic water supply or a town water supply, a boil water order would be issued, or the water supply would be shut down."

    Can it make you sick?
    Dr. Ryan says certain types of the bacteria could lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and that "you wouldn't actually be able to distinguish if it was from the water that you were drinking or from a touch of the flu that you got from someone else."

    So, what do our test volunteers think now? Most refuse to reuse...
    - "I will never reuse a bottle again," says Penny Angleton.

    - "Wow... "I couldn't tell anything was growing in there because it was just clear water," says Ted Kallergis. "That's really gross and disgusting... I'm probably only going to use the [bottle] once now," he adds.

    - "I'm surprised by that," says student Kate Devlin. She adds, "I'm going to start with a fresh bottle every time I drink it."

    - "It's pretty gross... I could be making myself sick from the water and never, never know it," says Cindy Napoles.

    - Student Mark McCoy vows from now on he will "buy a new bottle every day."

    This is not an issue about bottled water, but about people taking bottles and using them over and over again. Whether people refill at the tap, at the water fountain, or wherever...the source of the water is not the concern.


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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   JedsMom
    never more
  4. by   deespoohbear
    I have a hospital water pitcher that I drink water out of all day at work. Any problem with that?
  5. by   tiger
    maybe the water pitcher would be different since you don't actually drink from it. i think everyone where i work refills their water bottles throughout the day. i'm sure the people who sell bottled water would be more than happy for everyone to buy a new bottle each time. i usually just rinse mine out in between fills and i use it for that day-----NOT a week.
    Last edit by tiger on Feb 27, '03
  6. by   Flynurse
    That study was probably done concerning bottled water, i.e. Aquafina.
    And those bottles were used for a WHOLE WEEK!

    Now that is disgusting! I can't stand when even my dog's bowl isn't cleaned at least qod. Icky!!!!
  7. by   plumrn
    I would think the possibility is there no matter what you use and refill. I guess I'll be getting a new bottle each time from now on.
  8. by   ShandyLynnRN
    Speaking of water....what about the water coolers? At work we have one of those water coolers that you put those huge water jugs on and it goes into cold or room temperature spouts....I don't know if it ever gets cleaned or not, but the other day, I was getting some water out of there, and something black came out of the cold water spout with my water... I think it was mold.

    Does anyone know if and when these things need to be cleaned? Do the companies that supply the water clean them, or are we supposed to?

    About the bottled water, that's just gross!!! I usually wash my bottles out with soap and water in between refills... I wonder if that makes any difference?
  9. by   night owl
    At my LTC facility some of the residents just started using those water bottles that athletes use. You know, they have a straw through the lid and a wide mouth screw on top with a handle on the side. You know they be harboring all kinds of microrganisims...I guess someone's thinking they are easier for the old folk to use instead of a water pitcher, but the same straw is in them and some of them I've found dried, caked food on the straw...yuck! They need to be washed out with a bottle brush and the straws need to be changed every day to keep away those nasty germs.
  10. by   justjill
    what about nalgene bottles? anyone use those? supposedly they are supposed to kill bacteria and stuff....i don't know.

    what i do know is that i always refill my water bottle...and i haven't been sick yet!
  11. by   aimeee
    No big surprises there! What were they thinking about, having a bottle remaining at school for use ALL YEAR!? They use water bottles at our school too but they come home for washing EVERY NIGHT.
  12. by   sunnygirl272
    Originally posted by JillianRose
    what about nalgene bottles? anyone use those? supposedly they are supposed to kill bacteria and stuff....i don't know.

    what i do know is that i always refill my water bottle...and i haven't been sick yet!


    i don't see anything about them killing germies.....
  13. by   justjill
    hmm....sunnygirl....i might be making that up, but i thought i read somewhere that they kill nasty germs or something and that is why they are so great to take camping.

    but, i do know you can drive a car over one of them and it won't break!
  14. by   sunnygirl272
    Originally posted by JillianRose
    hmm....sunnygirl....i might be making that up, but i thought i read somewhere that they kill nasty germs or something and that is why they are so great to take camping.

    but, i do know you can drive a car over one of them and it won't break!
    lol.....mental image of you running over your Nalgene bottle, backing up over and repeating over and over a la Clara Harris..."break, you damn bottle!".....anyway, if ya click on that pic, it will link to their site...

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