New research shows that free-living amoebas exist in the drinking water supplies of many industrialized nations, despite treatment facilities designed to filter and disinfect the water.
A survey of 26 studies from 18 countries showed that free-living amoebas (FLA) consistently survive these treatments and quickly multiply in drinking water distribution and storage systems (Environmental Science Technology).
Two scientists from America and Australia reviewed drinking-water studies from Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia to determine the abundance of amoebas. They report that researchers found FLA in 45 percent of tap water samples. In 19 of the 26 studies, the amoebas were in every tap water sample collected.
Although it might not surprise you that pesticides, natural gas, and yes, even amoebas are floating around in your drinking water, scientists are concerned about what these new findings mean for public health.
Chemical and Engineering News reports that FLAs “can cause fatal diseases such as meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain” and “also host other pathogenic microorganisms, such as Legionella and Mycobacterium.”
Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to erradicating pathogens like FLA from water supplies. Experts say that changing water treatment regulations would take years to implement, and most agree that the best way to control the issue may be to change plumbing codes at the local municipality level.
Image Credit: University of Leicester