Everything flows – interesting facts about water hygiene

“Water is life” and many other sayings and quotations focus on this important element. And what could be more delightful than drinking a glass of water when you are thirsty!

 

“Water is life” and many other sayings and quotations focus on this important element. And what could be more delightful than drinking a glass of water when you are thirsty!

 

In Austria, we are in the fortunate position to be able to cover our demand for high-quality drinking water almost entirely from protected groundwater resources. It is supplied in its natural state and in excellent quality to the consumers. ÖNORM B 5014 was developed to ensure that it is not contaminated while it flows through pipes. This standard defines all the hygienic requirements to be met by materials in contact with water for human consumption.

“It protects our drinking water already on its way to and within the tap,” says Univ. Prof. Dipl. Ing. Dr. Regina Sommer, chairwoman of the Codex Commission "Drinking Water" at the Ministry of Health and president of the  Austrian Society for Hygiene, Microbiology and Preventive Medicine.

Moreover, ÖNORM B 5014 allows manufacturers to have their products tested for suitability for drinking water, certified and registered. They receive a certificate documenting the product's safety and quality assurance and serving as a "quality label" for customers. This proof of compliance also ensures that the materials used protect drinking water quality during the entire life of the products, which may be up to 100 years.


Are you interested in this? Registration is performed by Austrian Standards. Based on the relevant test reports, manufacturers can apply for the "TW" (suitability for drinking water) label for their products. Consumers interested can retrieve information on all the registered products suitable for drinking water in the Certificate Database on the online platform of Austrian Standards.

 

Water, a perishable foodstuff

Did you know that Austria classifies drinking water as a foodstuff? Accordingly, legal requirements are rather strict. But there is also something that you can do at home: After opening the tap, it is important to let the stale water drain from the pipes because water is highly perishable – like any foodstuff.

“Only when the water pouring from the tap is cold, it is fresh and can be consumed safely," pleads Helmut Richter who works in the Department of Plastics Technology and Environmental Engineering of the Federal Testing Centre TGM in Vienna.

In case drinking water should actually be contaminated in Austria, it is disinfected using UV radiation. How does this process work? Drinking water passes a UV light source in a radiation chamber. UV radiation damages the genetic information of microorganisms so that they are no longer able to reproduce and infect humans.

"The great advantage of UV radiation is that all pathogens, including bacteria, viruses as well as highly resistant parasites, are reliably deactivated. Moreover, UV radiation does not change the taste because it does not change the substances contained in water – if applied in line with our ÖNORM standard.” (quoted from Regina Sommer)

 

Enjoying a swim or a bath

Water is not only used for drinking but also for swimming. To make sure that pool water is conducive to health, microorganisms are eliminated from it by various methods. Chlorination is still the top choice for swimming pools. Wherever many people swim together, they are joined by the viruses and bacteria they bring along. Therefore, the water is pumped by circulators to the treatment system where undesirable particles are coagulated – i.e. merged into bigger particles – and removed from the water by a filter. Finally, a small amount of chlorine is added to the water before it is returned to the pool.

The Austrian Bathing Hygiene Regulation defines the requirements for bathing water quality and permitted treatment processes, while the specifications for technical systems are laid down in related ÖNORM standards.

For your whirl tub in your home or hotel, ÖNORM M 6222-1 ensures that a biofilm will not form due to stagnant water in hoses. Hence, there is nothing spoiling your enjoyment of a nice bath.

 

22 March: World Water Day

World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March – a perfect occasion for focusing on this invaluable foodstuff and for getting information on ÖNORM standards protecting water and our health.

news on the topic

Haben Sie noch weitere Fragen zu diesem Thema? Wir freuen uns auf Ihre Kontaktaufnahme.

Austrian Standards, Service Desk

Austrian Standards

Service Desk