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Health Agencies Update
February 23, 2005

Airline Drinking Water Tainted

JAMA. 2005;293(8):921. doi:10.1001/jama.293.8.921-a

Drinking water aboard many US airplanes is unsanitary, according to new findings by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Last November and December, the agency conducted a round of water quality sampling of 169 randomly selected domestic and international aircraft at 12 national airports. Samples were obtained from galley water taps and lavatory faucets for each aircraft. About one sixth, or 17.2%, of the aircraft tested carried water contaminated with total coliform bacteria, a marker for the presence of potentially disease-causing organisms. The finding prompted the EPA to advise that passengers with compromised immune systems or other health concerns request canned or bottled beverages and avoid drinking tea or coffee that is not made with bottled water.

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