Is That Water Safe to Drink?


It’s been more than 160 years since someone first figured out that germs in drinking water could lead to the spread of disease.

In 1854, British doctor John Snow plotted cases of cholera on a map of London and determined that a neighbourhood water pump was the source of an epidemic in the city. In this way, he proved his theory that germ-contaminated water (rather than particles in the air) was the source of the outbreak. Snow’s work led to major changes in the waste water and drinking water systems in London, resulting in similar changes in other cities and improvements in public health around the world.

German doctor and microbiologist Robert Koch was still a child when Snow made his discovery in 1854, but he would come to be recognized as a founder of modern bacteriology and is known for creating and improving laboratory technologies and techniques in the field of microbiology. Koch made important discoveries in public health, identified the specific causes of diseases including cholera and conducted experiments related to the concept of infectious disease. Koch’s postulates – four principles linking specific microorganisms to specific diseases – are based on his research.

These early scientists are only two of the many contributors to what we know about bacteria in drinking water systems as a potential source of disease. We’ve learned a lot since then and today water samples are routinely analyzed to determine the type and concentration of microbes present. We know that water systems contain both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria and we’ve also come to understand that a single glass of water actually contains millions of microbes. Bacteriological water analysis gives us access to critical data, making it possible to identify trends and proactively address concerns.

At LuminUltra, we’ve been helping to protect public health by contributing to water tools and analysis for more than 15 years. We plan to continue our work in this critical sector for a long time to come. Through our 2nd Generation ATP testing tools and two new DNA tools – Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) – we can quickly and accurately screen for microbiological content and also identify specific microbes or groups of microbes.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of water microbiology, you’ll find lots of information captured in a new book, Microbiological Sensors for the Drinking Water Industry. We’re proud that LuminUltra’s very own Pat Whalen is a contributor.

From the editor:

Normally, the book will cost you $143, but we’re giving you two chapters for free.

Chapter 2:
The need for speed – rapid evolution of microbiological testing in drinking water

Chapter 8:
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) measurement technology


Stacey Pineau

Clearly explaining complex topics has been Stacey’s focus for close to 25 years now. She helps plan how best to reach the right people, then works to provide them with relevant information that’s easy to understand. Stacey is a team player with an entrepreneurial spirit. She has broad experience that spans the private and public sectors. A lover of words, Stacey has a slightly irrational love of the library and a personal collection of way too many books and magazines. She lives in Fredericton with her husband Ray, their two children and dog Scouty.

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