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Water, fair and foul
Date:4/21/2010

Does your drinking water smell foul, or are you worried that chemicals might be damaging your family's health? Water treatment facilities currently use chlorine that produces carcinogenic by-products to keep your tapwater clean, but Tel Aviv University scientists have determined that ultra-violet (UV) light might be a better solution.

Dr. Hadas Mamane of Tel Aviv University's Porter School of Environmental Science and Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Eliora Ron of TAU's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and their doctoral student Anat Lakretz of TAU's School of Mechanical Engineering have recently determined the optimal UV wavelength for keeping water clean of microorganisms. Their approach could be used by water treatment plants as well as large-scale desalination facilities to destroy health-threatening microorganisms and make these facilities more efficient.

"UV light irradiation is being increasingly applied as a primary process for water disinfection," says Lakretz. "In our recent study, we've shown how this treatment can be optimized to kill free-swimming bacteria in the water the kinds that also stick inside water distribution pipes and clog filters in desalination plants by producing bacterial biofilms."

This undesired "stickiness" of bacteria to surfaces is called "bio-fouling," which costs taxpayers and governments billions of dollars each year. "No one should be drinking microorganisms in their water. In addition, when microorganisms get stuck in the pores of the membranes of filters, they create serious problems," says Lakretz.

Not all UV light is created equal

Irradiation could be used as a pre-treatment to inactivate suspended microorganisms in water, with the secondary goal of preventing bio-fouling. In their study, reported in the journal Biofouling, the researchers looked at targeted UV light wavelengths on the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, commonly found in drinking wa
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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