Tests reveal high drinking water contamination levels on aircraft

Nearly one fifth of drinking water provided on-board aircraft is contaminated with bacteria such as E Coli, a shocking set of random tests conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revealed.

Of the total 327 aircraft that were randomly tested by the EPA, around 15% were shown to be carrying water contaminated with total coliform bacteria, indicating the presence of other disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, which could potentially affect public health.

“The information release today is intended to help the public make informed decisions while travelling on aircraft,” the agency stated. “Passengers with compromised immune systems or others concerned may want to request canned or bottled beverages, and refrain from drinking tea or coffee unless made with bottled water.”

In instances where foreign flag aircraft tested positive for total coliform, the EPA informed those airline companies of the positive test results and advised that they disinfected and retested the vehicles.

Following the test results, the EPA has announced that further testing will take place, and efforts will be made to reach agreements with airlines so that water quality on-board aircraft can be more closely monitored.

The majority of US flag carrying aircraft have already or are in the process of negotiating water monitoring agreements with the EPA. The agency will continue to work towards securing agreements with other airlines.

These agreements will govern airline drinking water safety until additional regulations are completed.

By Jane Kettle

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie