In Flight, Dont Drink the Water
EPA Finds Bacteria on Tap in Airplanes
Potential bankruptcies, lackluster service and cut
routes are not the only things souring the airline industry. Even
the water is iffy.
In January, the Environmental Protection Agency posted results
from tests of water from galley taps, water fountains and lavatory
faucets on domestic aircraft. Of the 169 planes at 12 U.S. airports
tested late last year, 17.2 percent carried water containing
disease-causing organisms known as coliform bacteria.
“Passengers with suppressed immune systems and others concerned
should request bottled or canned water and should refrain from
drinking tea or coffee, since that water is not ordinarily boiled,”
said an EPA spokesperson.
A test in 2004 of 158 aircraft found 12.7 percent tested
positive for coliform.
The airline industry appears to be taking the problem
seriously. Late last year, the Air Transport Association, a trade
group representing U.S. airlines, announced a new two-year joint
plan, developed with the EPA, to strengthen both the testing and
disinfection of 12 member airlines’ drinking water. Under the
" ATA member carriers now will annually test water from each
aircraft and report the results to the EPA.
" These carriers will disinfect each plane’s water systems at
least four times per year and drinking-water carts once a
" If the results are positive, carriers will start disinfecting
their planes’ water systems on a regular basis.
“We have voluntarily agreed to take these additional steps to
address any lingering questions about the quality of aircraft
drinking water,” said an ATA statement.