Water on planes: just how clean is it?

Coliform bacteria in drinking water on 12% of planes

Just how clean is the water in that refreshing cup of coffee or tea you’re sipping at 35,000 feet? As many as 12% of 300 commercial aircraft tested positive for potentially dangerous coliform bacteria in the drinking water, in tests recently conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

NBC managed to get the results, but only after citing the US Freedom of Information Act.

The presence of coliform can be an indicator that much more harmful bacteria like E.coli, could be there too.

The Environmental Protection Agency had already toughened policies on inflight water after a similar survey in 2004 found 15% of planes were contaminated. The EPA admits that “there is more that needs to be done.”

Disease experts say that onboard tap water should never be used to fill up babies’ bottles and that anyone with problems with their immune systems should avoid hot drinks served up in the air.


[pictured: Snowflakes photographed by Wilson Bentley, 1902]


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