BERKELEY, CA — A new study from the University of California at Berkeley suggests that senior citizens would benefit from using specially designed residential water treatment systems, according to a September 21 report in The Press Democrat.
John Colford Jr., the principal researcher for UC's School of Public Health, said that, based on results of a study conducted in Sonoma County, CA, elderly residents who drank publicly supplied water that is then further treated in the home experienced fewer gastrointestinal illnesses from pathogens. The treatment system consisted of filters and ultraviolet light disinfection.
“It is excessively good treatment,” Colford said. “The filter was tested in the laboratory under rigorous conditions; we know how good it can do.”
Colford stressed that the study is not an indication that water supplied by the Sonoma County Water Agency is unsafe, because that water meets state and federal standards for public water systems.
He said he hopes the study will become part of a larger national discussion on whether there should be more stringent safe drinking water standards for children, the elderly and those with immunology problems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.
The five-year study cost $2.8 million and was financed by the National Institute of Health. It is slated for publication in the November edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
The study was conducted in 2005 in 714 households and covered 998 individuals over the age of 55 in the communities of Sonoma, Temelec, Valley of the Moon, Oakmont, Glen Ellen, Kenwood, Cotati and Santa Rosa, which are served primarily by the county Water Agency.
Half of the households in the study were fitted with special filters and UV disinfection that removed 99.9 percent of all viruses, bacteria and parasites that are naturally present in water or can be introduced by pollution. Those in the study were asked to track how many times they experienced such illnesses as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and cramps.
Those using a non-working filter system had 12 percent more illnesses than those with the fully functioning filter systems according to the study.
“It is statistically significant, it is larger than you expect to see by random chance,” Colford said. “It is important.”