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Keeping Indoor Water Fountains Free Of Bacteria

Study

Indoor water fountains have been shown to promote health and improve the working environment in hospital and healthcare settings. One fear that lingers, however, is that indoor water features may contain or breed bacteria or other pathogens that could be released into the air. Dr. Joe Boatman of Quality Environmental Services conducted a study to determine whether the reservoirs of indoor water fountains could remain free of mold and bacteria during operation. He found that an ultraviolet light sterilization system is a safe and effective way to control bacterial contamination in the indoor water fountains, and an anti-microbial coating on the interior surfaces of the indoor water features prevents the formation of yeast and mold on those surfaces. The Research. The research methodology was applied to three indoor water features, all containing anti-microbial coatings on the interior surfaces, and identical except that:

  • The first of the indoor water features did not contain an ultraviolet light sterilization system.
  • The second of the indoor water features contained a 20-watt ultraviolet light sterilization system with a pump capacity of 1,800 gallons per hour.
  • The third of the indoor water features contained a 40-watt ultraviolet light sterilization system with a pump capacity of 3,000 gallons per hour.

The Test Environment. Water samples were collected from the reservoirs of the water fountains at the base of the indoor water features six times over a two week period; three times with the UV lights off, three times with the UV lights on, always with the anti-microbial coating in place. Each sample was tested for Pseudomonas, Coliform, Total Bacteria, Yeast, and Mold. Bacteria. The water supplied to the reservoirs of the water walls at the beginning of the test contained no bacteria. In the week without UV light sterilization, the concentration of total bacteria rose dramatically in all three reservoirs of the indoor water features. At the end of the first week, the UV light sterilization systems were activated in the second and third reservoirs of the indoor water fountains. The concentration of total bacteria in the reservoirs of the indoor water features dropped below the detection limit of one Colony Forming Unit per milliliter (CFU/ml) within two days and remained there until the end of the study. The concentration of total bacteria in the reservoir of the indoor water fountains without UV light stayed high and probably would have gone even higher except bacteria free water was occasionally added to the reservoir of the indoor water fountains to replace the water lost by evaporation. The results showed that: No detectable concentrations of Pseudomonas bacteria (a major cause of hospital acquired infections) were observed in the reservoirs of the three indoor water fountains with the UV light during this study.

No detectable concentrations of Clifford bacteria were observed in the reservoirs of the three UV indoor water fountains during this study. Coliform species are easy to culture and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of fecal origin may be present

Although no bacteria existed in the water supplied to the three indoor water features, within two days with the UV lights off, the concentration of total bacteria rose dramatically. The concentration of total bacteria remained high in the indoor water features with no UV light sterilization system

The concentration of total bacteria in the reservoir of the two indoor water fountains with the UV light sterilization system in the reservoir plummeted to less then 1 (CFU/ml) within two days and remained there for the rest of the study

Conclusion

As a result of this study we feel confident claiming that:

  • A UV light intensity of 2/3 watt/gallon and a circulation rate of 1,800 gallons per hour is a safe and effective way to control bacterial contamination in indoor water features.
  • The anti-microbial coating on the interior surfaces of the indoor water features prevents the formation of yeast and mold on those surfaces.

Some indoor water fountains such as the Stainless Face Wall Mount Fountain have been specifically manufactured for use in evidence based design in healthcare settings. These units are treated with Saniguard®, which is a patented inorganic, anti-microbial coating that inhibits mold, fungus and virus cell reproduction. They also feature a PathoBan AG254 Anti-microbial Cleaning System™ which eliminates bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms and includes the UV light used in the study.

 

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