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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2004 Oct;207(5):473-80.

Water contamination in urban south India: household storage practices and their implications for water safety and enteric infections.

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Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.


Water contamination, at source and during household storage, is a major cause of enterically transmitted infections in developing countries. This study assessed contamination of the municipal water in a south Indian town, which obtains its water intermittently from a surface lake and by pumping subsurface water from a dry river bed, and monitored microbial contamination during household storage. All samples of the 'treated' municipal water were contaminated when freshly pumped, and on household storage, 25/37 (67%) showed increased contamination during storage periods from 1 to 9 days. Household storage in brass, but not in containers of other materials significantly decreased contamination of water (p = 0.04). This was confirmed in the laboratory by testing water seeded with 10(3) to 10(5) Escherichia coli per 100 ml stored in containers of different materials (p < 0.01). Despite the requirements for provision of safe drinking water in municipal areas, in practice the water supplied in Vellore is contaminated and current household storage practices increase the level of contamination in at least two-thirds of households. The implementation of locally appropriate point-of-use disinfection and safe household storage practices in developing countries is an urgent need to ensure a safe, reliable year-round supply in areas where clean water is not available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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