Waterborne Illness. How long should water be boiled when a boil order is in effect?

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1 Water

2 Waterborne Illness Canada's federal, provincial and municipal governments share responsibility for the safety of drinking water. In most areas of Canada, the province or territory is responsible for setting and enforcing standards to ensure adequate treatment of drinking water. Municipal governments are responsible for supplying safe drinking water to their residents as an essential public service, in compliance with provincial drinking water standards or objectives. Health Canada has developed, in collaboration with all provincial and territorial governments, the guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality. Freshwater lakes, streams and underground reservoirs are sources of drinking water. These sources act like a catch-basin for substances found in the environment, some of which are harmful to humans. In most Canadian communities, drinking water is treated to remove contaminants and kill diseasecausing organisms (bacteria, viruses and protozoa). Inadequate or lack of water treatment may leave these organisms in the water. Some types of bacteria are a threat to drinking water quality and are responsible for waterborne illnesses. Coliform bacteria are not disease causing organisms, and are only mildly infectious. They are a natural part of the microbiology of the intestinal tract of warm blooded mammals, including humans. Their presence in drinking water is used as an indicator that the water may contain bacteria that are harmful to humans (pathogens), such as fecal coliforms and pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli). The presence of these bacteria in a water sample may indicate contamination from a sewer, septic system, feedlot, or animal yard. Any drinking water sample that tests positive for total coliform bacteria is further tested to determine if fecal coliforms and/or pathogenic E. coli bacteria are present. If they are detected, the water supplier will issue a "boil order" notice, immediately begin disinfecting the water distribution system, and, through the public notification process, inform their customers of what precautions they must take. Why issue a 'boil water advisory'? Pathogenic bacteria in drinking water can cause gastrointestinal illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting. Not all people will be affected to the same degree. Young people and the elderly are usually more susceptible to illnesses from fecal coliform contamination. How long should water be boiled when a boil order is in effect? Bring water to a rolling boil and let it boil for one minute to eliminate harmful bacteria.

3 Is there a need to boil water when chlorine is in the system? Yes. Even though the chlorine is in the water to kill the bacteria, if a boil water advisory has been issued the water should be boiled until tests prove that all the bacteria have been killed and the water is safe. Can ice be made with this water? No. Ice should not be made with contaminated drinking water. Freezing will not sufficiently destroy the pathogens. Ice that has already been made or ice produced by an ice maker should be discarded. Can the water be used to make coffee? For cooking? For washing dishes? No, not unless it has first been boiled. However, commercial dishwashers using hot water or chemical sanitizing may be used, providing the operating temperature and sanitizer concentration meet manufacturer's specifications. Is it safe to brush teeth with this water? No. The possibility exists that the disease-causing bacteria could be introduced into a person's digestive systems while brushing. Is it safe to bathe, shower, or wash clothes with this water? The water under a boil water advisory is safe for any of these activities; however, infants and young children should not bathe using contaminated water as they may swallow some of it. Water entering the mouth should be avoided to reduce the risk of infection. Can contaminated drinking water be used on plants? Yes. The bacteria that may be present in the water do not present a threat to plants. Wells To be safe for drinking, your well water's bacteriological, chemical and physical parameters should meet the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. It is recommended that a water sample be submitted for bacterial analysis at least once a year. Well water should also be tested: - after well servicing - whenever a change in taste, odour or colour is noticed

4 - whenever you suspect illness may be caused by the water - whenever the risk of contamination increases due to changes in environmental conditions. These may include heavy rains and run off, flooding, a change in the surrounding land use, or an extended dry spell. Source: 06.jul.05, Food Safety Network

5 What is Bottled Water? Bottled water is water which has been packaged in sealed containers for human consumption. It includes water represented as "spring" water or "mineral" water and water from various other sources that may have been treated to make it fit for human consumption. What are the different types of bottled water? According to current regulations, bottled water may be represented as "spring" or "mineral" water only if it originates from an underground source which is not part of a community water supply. The water must be naturally fit for human consumption at its point of origin and may not be subjected to any treatment that would modify the original chemical composition of the water. The only treatments permitted include carbonation, the addition of ozone as a disinfecting agent or fluoridation to prevent dental cavities. Generally, mineral water contains a larger amount of dissolved mineral salts than spring water. Bottled water that is not labelled as "spring" or "mineral" may be from any source and can be treated to make it fit for human consumption or to modify its original composition. The label of these waters must show how they have been treated. The following product names must appear on the label: "distilled water" - when the treatment includes distillation (i.e. vaporization and condensation); "demineralized water"- when the treatment, by means other than distillation, results in the mineral content being reduced to less than 10 parts per million; and "carbonated water" - when the water contains added carbon dioxide, making it effervescent. Bottled waters that do not fit into one of the above categories, and do not qualify to be represented as spring or mineral water, may be named by any other appropriate term which is accurate and not misleading. Could tap water be used to manufacture bottled water? Yes, except for water represented as spring or mineral water. Some bottled waters such as "distilled" or "demineralized" water may be tap water that has undergone a treatment process to lower the mineral content and/or remove chemicals such as chlorine.

6 What information is required to appear on the label of bottled water? Like any pre-packaged food, bottled water must carry the following basic labelling information: common name, list of ingredients if it consists of more than one ingredient, net quantity, and name and address of the company responsible. Additional labelling requirements specific to bottled water include the following: For all bottled waters: fluoride ion content; For "spring" and "mineral" water: dissolved mineral salt content, statement indicating whether ozone or fluoride has been added, and statement relating the geographic location of the underground source of the water. For bottled waters, other than "spring" or "mineral" water: description of any treatment the water has undergone. Could bottled water have bacteria in it? Bottled water is not a sterile product. However, it is required to be free of disease causing organisms. Like most foods, bottled water may contain naturally occurring bacteria which typically have little or no health significance. Is bottled water safer than tap water? Manufacturers and importers of bottled water are required to ensure that their products continually meet the Canadian health and safety standards. Quality standards for bottled and municipal waters are similar. Both bottled and municipal waters that meet or exceed their required health and safety standards, are considered to be safe. At the present time, no waterborne disease outbreaks have been associated with drinking bottled water in Canada. Health Canada recommends that populations particularly susceptible to illness or disease should consider either boiling their water prior to use or using only sterile water. This recommendation applies to infants, pregnant women, the frail elderly

7 and those whose immune system has been weakened by disease, surgery or therapy. What should I consider before purchasing bottled water? Examine the bottles closely before purchasing and buy only bottles where the seal is unbroken. Make sure the water is clear and free of debris. The consumer should avoid refilling old bottles unless they have been properly cleaned and sanitized. How should bottled water be stored? Water should always be stored in well-sealed containers. Large quantities of bottled water may be stored in a cool, dark storage area such as a basement or warehouse. As with other foods, if bottled water is being stockpiled in long term storage, care should be taken to rotate the inventory so that no product in storage will exceed its shelf life. Most bottled water manufacturers indicate that their product has a two-year shelf-life. How is bottled water regulated? Bottled water is considered to be a food product and is regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. These regulations include requirements for microbiological quality, composition and labelling. Like any pre-packaged consumer product, bottled water is also subject to the requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations. Health Canada establishes health and safety standards for the bottled water sold in Canada through the Food and Drugs Act. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) enforces these standards. The CFIA also sets and enforces requirements under both of the above-mentioned Acts to protect consumers against fraud in relation to the composition, packaging, labelling and advertising of bottled water. As part of its enforcement role, CFIA can inspect products, labels, and establishments involved in the sale, manufacture and distribution of bottled water. In addition, some provincial and municipal ministries and agencies may regulate and inspect bottled water. Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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