Water Safety Needs Science Backup: Experts


Environmental health experts also warn that some positive policy changes can lead to other potential problems.

From Legionella bacteria and Non-tuberculous mycobacteria, safe transport of mains water depends on best practice and good policy, environmental health experts say. However, Flinders University academics warn current systems and legislation may not always be supported by solid scientific research or best practice in public health.

“There are major inconsistencies in Australia, and overseas jurisdictions, in managing Legionella and other contaminants in water systems,” says Flinders University Associate Professor Richard Bentham, who will present on possible shortfalls in Legionella disease policy at the Environmental Health Australia (EHA) National Conference in Adelaide (6-8 November 2019).

“For example, some of the requirements, to keep cold-water systems at the European standard well below 20C, is not always possible in Australia. Other policy settings on warm-water, hot- and cold-water systems are not always based on evidence-based science, and usually rely solely on a localised tick-box protocol, which opens the gate for all sorts of things to happen.”

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