Monday 25 June 2007

New housing developments may be causing bug outbreaks

The construction of new housing developments and one-off builds on what was once traditional farming land may be contributing to the recent outbreaks of of cryptosporidiosis in Ireland, according to a leading scientist from the United States.

Richard Martin, a manager with NSF International USA - a not-for-profit organisation concerned with standards development and product testing - addressed delegates at the Engineers Ireland CPD conference - 'Cryptosporidium - Causes, Prevention & Solutions' - which took place on 21st June at the Radisson Hotel, Athlone. He warned attendees that the incidence of Cryptosporidium in drinking water may be related to an overstressed water treatment infrastructure in areas of rapid development.

Cryptosporidium may occur in drinking water when the surface water - or the groundwater under its influence - suffers contamination.

Mr Martin believes that water contamination is increasing as a result of problems with waste and drinking water treatment infrastructure, in addition to extreme weather incidents and perculiarities of regional geology, such as the presence of karst limestone. Furthermore, rapid residential development in areas previously given to farming, has led to a rise in the number of points at which contaminated surface water can reach groundwater.

Such contaminated source waters can be successfully treated. As part of his presentation, Mr Martin addressed the regulations, water treatment products and validation techniques for systems and technology. UV technology was singled out as an effective means of protection from the Cryptosporidium bug.

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