How do bacteria spread in the drinking water system?
In drinking water systems, bacteria are most likely to be found in limescale and biofilm. They spread particularly quickly in standing water at temperatures above 30°C. Under favourable conditions, bacteria spread by means of cell division at a constant rate. In other words, 8 spread to 64 after 20 minutes, to 4096 after another 20 minutes, to 16,777 after another 20 minutes, etc. As a result, it can take just a few hours for fresh drinking water to become a potential source of illness.
What are bacteria/viruses/germs?
Bacteria: Bacteria are microscopically tiny single-cell organisms. Although not all bacteria are harmful to health, they can pose a real risk in drinking water in your mobile home. Due to the incredibly fast rate at which they divide, strains of E. Coli bacteria in particular can contaminate clean drinking water within just a few hours, causing traveller’s diarrhoea. The dreaded salmonellae, responsible for numerous ailments from diarrhoea to typhus, are also types of bacteria. According to the WHO, there are approximately 16 million cases of illness caused by salmonellae worldwide every year.
Viruses: Viruses are parasites which attack the cells of living organisms. They too can occur in contaminated drinking water. Because they are so small, it is difficult to use mechanical means to filter them out. The hepatitis A virus, which causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever, is common in southern Europe. Noroviruses, which cause abdominal influenza, can also attack drinking water.
Germs: Germs is a generic term for causative organisms. Germs can be found in bacteria, viruses, mould, parasites, algae, Mycetozoa and protozoa.
What is biofilm? What effects does it have on clean drinking water poured into a fresh water tank?
A biofilm is a layer of slime that typically accumulates in the hose lines of drinking water systems in motor homes and caravans. Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, algae and mould can be found embedded in it. When fresh and apparently clean drinking water is poured into a drinking water system contaminated by biofilm, the microorganisms in the biofilm start to spread. As bacteria spread by means of cell division at a constant rate under favourable conditions, it takes very little time for the water to become contaminated, thereby becoming a potential source of a large number of illnesses.
What are legionellae? What risks do they pose?
Legionellae are rod-shaped bacteria which live in water. Most often to be found in biofilms in the drinking water systems of motor homes and caravans, they spread at an alarming rate in standing water. The bacteria are transmitted to humans via inhalation of colonised droplets of water (e.g. whilst taking a shower). Legionellae are causative organisms for the dreaded Legionnaires disease, a very serious strain of pneumonia.
What are P. aeruginosa (pseudomonas aeruginosa)?
P.aeruginosa are common germs found in soil and water which can occur in drinking water and thus also in washbasins and showers. They are often found in biofilms and are known for their resistance to many antibiotics (“hospital bug”). They cause many and varied ailments: urinary tract infections, meningitis, ear and wound infections to name but a few. The combination of active oxygen and silver ions found in AquaStar 2 und AquaStar 3 is an effective means of deactivating (oxidising) this germ strain.
What problems does limescale cause?
Limescale is a hotbed for bacteria and therefore causes your water to smell musty and taste bad. The high temperatures cause it to accumulate in the water heaters of drinking water systems in particular. The transfer of energy from the water heater to the cold water is impaired by the insulating effect of the limescale. As a result, it takes much longer for water to heat up, more energy is consumed and water heaters do not last as long as they should.
Is it possible to tell if water is contaminated?
It is difficult to tell if water is contaminated as bacteria, germs and viruses cannot be seen by the naked eye. Before using water from an unknown source in your motor home/caravan, let it run until it levels out at a constant cold temperature and pour a sample into a glass. Never fill up your mobile home with water that:
- Smells musty
- Looks milky or cloudy
- Contains visible suspended particles
Does the use of AquaStar 1+2 plus AquaStar 3 violate the minimisation requirement?
No. The minimisation requirement states that prophylactic treatment of drinking water installations is to be avoided. However, where mobile homes are concerned, increased contamination has to be assumed on account of the standing water in the water tank. According to Section 37, Para. 1 of the Infection Protection Act in Germany (IfSG for short), "water for human use must be of such quality that there is no reason to fear any damage to human health, particularly through pathogens, being involved in its consumption or use". The IfSG outweighs the minimisation requirement here.
Why does the tank need to be cleaned?
Algae, bacteria and limescale can be found in almost every drinking water system in motor homes and caravans. Limescale is primarily to be found in water heaters, like the boiler you have at home. It is a hotbed for bacteria and pathogens, which get into the water tank through contaminated fresh water or polluted filling hoses. This can cause biofilms to form, which attach themselves to the walls of the water lines in your motor home or caravan. Biofilms can contaminate your drinking water with dangerous legionellae, which can attack the human body through spray when showering. Bacteria (responsible for diarrhoea) and salmonellae are also at home in contaminated drinking water systems!
What does the process for cleaning the drinking water system involve?
Essentially, a descaler and a disinfectant are required to clean the drinking water system. Tests have shown that descaling must be carried out first. This ensures that the action of the disinfectant is not impaired by a layer of limescale. A clean drinking water system is vital if agents for descaling and preserving water are to be effective.
What are the reasons behind descaling and preserving water?
Even clean drinking water is never entirely germ-free! In southern and eastern European countries in particular, drinking water quality is poor because of inadequate treatment processes and decayed pipelines. However, in Germany and central, western and northern parts of Europe too, clean drinking water can be exposed to germs by using hoses which are in poor condition when filling up with water.
If you do not use your mobile home during the summer, it is important to clean the drinking water system and then refill it completely with water. This water should be treated with AquaStar 3 to avoid bacterial growth and accumulation in lines and on container walls whilst your motor home is idle.
What problems are encountered when using denture cleaning agents to clean drinking water systems?
Although denture cleaning agents contain active oxygen which acts as a bactericide, they are not able to remove limescale. As a result, the active oxygen cannot penetrate the bacteria underneath the layers of limescale to kill them off. Furthermore, non-dissolved parts of the denture cleaning agent pose a risk of damage to pumps and accumulate on container walls. This produces new biofilms.