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Is Your Water Cooler Making You Sick?

In the modern world, we are surrounded by toxins, bacteria, and contaminants. We base our daily choices on trying to avoid things that are unhealthy, that make us sick, or cause long-term damage. And yet unseen dangers still lurk, even in something as commonplace as the office water cooler. 

It’s a real concern that many contaminants in our water have no taste or odor. There is often no obvious indication that the water has been contaminated. This hidden danger leads many to unknowingly consume harmful bacteria every day. 

Unsafe drinking water takes its toll on our bodies. But its reach goes beyond the physical as it affects the productivity and bottom line of the workplace. Sick absences cost the average US employer $1,685 per employee each year.

What Is In Your Water?

Tufts University found that many coolers may be harboring unhealthy levels of bacteria that cause nausea and diarrhea. When they checked the bacteria count of water coolers from across the campus of Boston University, in every liter of water they found that counts of harmful organisms reached a minimum of 2,000 parts. These potential harmful contaminants are four times the government recommended threshold of 500-organisms.

How is Drinking Water Getting Contaminated?

Standard bottle water coolers are open systems. You are probably familiar with the “glug-glug” sound as you pour water from a water cooler. This happens as the cooler draws in air from the outside environment in order to move the water into your glass. Everything that has been floating in the air around the cooler has now been introduced into your drinking water.

Water coolers and refrigerators are a high-touch point of any workspace, they are shared by everyone. And before they reach your office, those 5-gallon jugs have been handled by at least four people. Did the dozens (if not hundreds!) of people who have touched the cooler before you wash their hands? 

Since viruses can live on plastic for up to 5 days, the risk of becoming sick because of cross-contamination is extremely high.

What Are The Dangers of Drinking Contaminated Water?

Some common effects of drinking dirty drinking water include:

  • Abdominal or Intestinal Pain and Cramping
  • Feeling Nauseous
  • Diarrhea
  • Lung Damage

The EPA Reports that “If drinking water contains unsafe levels of contaminants, it can cause health effects, such as gastrointestinal illnesses, nervous system or reproductive effects, and chronic diseases such as cancer.”

The Center for Disease Control continues, saying that “Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are compromised because of AIDS, chemotherapy, or transplant medications, may be especially susceptible to illness from some contaminants.”

How Can I Get Clean Drinking Water In My Office?

In most cases, the problem is not with the water itself. Rather, it is the source from which the water is dispensed that is unsanitary. If the reservoir of a standard 5-gallon water cooler isn’t cleaned it becomes a petri dish and the water that runs through it will become contaminated.

Regular sanitization needs to take place in order to reduce bacteria and bio-film. It is recommended that water coolers are cleaned with a bleach solution about every six weeks. The process takes just under an hour, a time-consuming task that is too often left for another day because busy schedules don’t allow for it

There’s another, simpler way to deliver pure water that is safe for your employees. Our PureAquaTek bottle-less water solution offers a line of products that include features like ultra-fine technology that removes contaminants, bacteria, and viruses.

If you are looking for a water solution for your office in Houston, Austin or DFW, talk to us today about how we can help make your workspace a safer place.