Microbes are everywhere thousands of species are in your mouth, and thousands are in a glass of tap water. The ones in your mouth are mostly harmless as long as you brush and floss so they don't form a biofilm that allows gum disease a path into the blood stream.
Microbes in the tap water delivered by modern water systems in a developed country are also mostly harmless with some notable exceptions.
A team of Virginia Tech researchers is investigating the challenges presented by four often deadly pathogens that have been documented in household or hospital tap water. They propose fighting these opportunistic pathogens with harmless microbes a probiotic approach for cleaning up plumbing.
Writing in the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science and Technology, the researchers reviewed studies of opportunistic pathogens that have colonized water systems within buildings between the delivery point and the tap. They define a probiotic approach as intentionally creating conditions that select for a desirable microbial community, or microbiome.
"We are putting forward a new way of thinking about waterborne pathogen control," said Amy Pruden, a professor of civil and environmental engineering whose sustainable water research is supported by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
"We have new tools the next generation DNA-sequencing tools, which have just come online in the last five years," Pruden said. "They are providing unprecedented information about microbes in all sorts of environments, including 'clean' drinking water. These tools have really surprised us by showing us the numbers and diversity of microbes. There can be thousands of different species of bacteria in a household water supply."
|Contact: John Pastor|