Battling Biofilms in Aging Water Infrastructure

Microbes’ propensity to attach to both living and inanimate surfaces improves their likelihood of survival and proliferation.  They produce a sticky material that binds them together and anchors them to the surface forming dense, complex colonies of microorganisms known as biofilm.  Biofilms are very common in nature1, especially on water- and food-contact surfaces.  The interiors

Mineral Ionizers: Don’t Forget the Chlorine

Mineral ionizers treat swimming pool water by releasing metals such as copper and silver into the water. These metals are known to have germ-destroying properties, but do they do the job adequately? While some marketers claim that their technology results in a chlorine-free pool, research suggests that mineral ionizers should, in fact, be used in

Facts and Tips for Salt Pool Owners

As salt pools gain popularity in many areas of the country, we think it is a good time to provide some handy facts and tips for salt pool owners and operators. Fact #1: Salt pools generate chlorine for sanitation. Salt pools obtain their chlorine residual by means of “chlorine generators” (electrolysis devices) that use electricity

Can Swimming Pools Go “Chemical-free”?

Pool manufacturers sometimes market their products as being “chemical free.” Chemistry 101 teaches us that claim cannot be true in a literal sense, as all matter–including pool tiles, concrete, plumbing and water–is composed of chemical compounds. But if we assume that the “chemical” of “chemical free” refers to treatment chemicals, such as chlorine and other

Turn the Chlorinators on Full-time in Chilliwack

Chilliwack, British Columbia is the site of an unfolding controversy over whether or not to add chlorine to what residents say is some of the best tasting drinking water in all of Canada.  The Fraser Health Authority (FHA) recently advised the city of 80,000 people that chlorine is needed in the municipal drinking water based

Uncovering Water Main Data in North America

Underground water mains are pipes that supply safe drinking water—the lifeblood of society–to millions of consumers.  Most who benefit from this service seldom consider the vast water delivery network below their feet—until something goes wrong.  Water main breaks may exact considerable social and economic costs, including property damage, risks to public health, increased water utility

Can a Seattle Office Building Do without Chlorinated Water?

Can an ultra-green office building meet the “Living Building Challenge” (LBC) and bypass not only the energy grid but municipally treated drinking water?  That is the question being raised as the 50,000 square foot, six story Seattle Bullitt Center office building nears completion.  According to Time magazine (July 2, 2012), the building may be the

Cholera in the Caribbean

In the wake of heavy rains, Cuba has been visited for the first time in 130 years by an old public health enemy:  cholera.  According to CNN, the problem may have begun when floodwater contaminated drinking water wells with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae (CNN video).  The outbreak appears to be limited mainly to the eastern

A Brief History of Municipal Swimming Pools

Municipal swimming pools have evolved for more than 150 years from little more than public baths for the urban poor to the well-designed and scientifically operated facilities we know today. Author Jeff Wiltse documents the evolution of the public swimming pool in America in his 2007 book, Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Highlights Need for Hygiene in Child Care Settings

Hand, foot and mouth diseasei is a viral illness caused by coxsackievirus. Afflicting mostly children, coxsackievirus normally causes mild fever and rash or sores on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and sores or blisters in the mouth. Recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported coxsackievirus A6