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Water Res. 2004 Mar;38(6):1457-66.

Survival of Mycobacterium avium in a model distribution system.

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American Water, Quality Control and Research Laboratory, 1115 South Illinois Street, Belleville, IL 62220, USA.


A pilot study was designed to examine the impact of nutrient levels, pipe materials, and disinfection on the survival of M. avium in model drinking water distribution system biofilms. Studies showed that the survival of the organism was dependant upon a complex interaction between pipe surface, nutrient levels, and disinfectants. The findings showed that when no disinfection was applied, M. avium could be recovered from biofilms at nutrient levels of 50microg/L assimilable organic carbon. M. avium concentrations were lower on copper pipe surfaces following disinfection with free chlorine as compared to monochloramine. However, due to the interference of corrosion products, chloramination of iron pipe surfaces controlled M. avium levels better than free chlorine. These data demonstrate the significance of pipe materials on the survival of M. avium complex in biofilms. Elimination of competitive heterotrophic bacteria on copper pipe surfaces by the application of disinfection resulted in a population of nearly 100% M. avium. Heat treatment of M. avium biofilms was affected by the pipe composition and organic content of the water. Effluent temperatures >53 degrees C were required to control the occurrence of M. avium in the pipeline system. Although additional studies are required using improved detection methods, the results of this investigation suggest that reducing the biodegradable organic material in drinking water, control of corrosion, maintenance of an effective disinfectant residual, and management of hot water temperatures can help limit the occurrence of M. avium complex in drinking water biofilms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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