26 September 2023 |
Researchers from Loma Linda University (LLU) have detected microbial contamination in various common drinking water sources in the Eastern Coachella Valley, notably in soda fountains located in fast-food restaurants. The study, titled “Microbial contamination analysis of drinking water from bulk dispensers and fast-food restaurants in the Eastern Coachella Valley, California,” was published in the International Water Association’s journal, Water Supply, according to a recent article on the Loma Linda University Health website.
41% of the water samples from soda fountains were found to contain total coliforms, indicative of contamination. Molecular analysis further revealed the presence of bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Several samples exceeded the maximum permissible bacteria levels, as stated by the Environmental Protection Agency. These findings pose severe public health concerns, particularly in areas like Eastern Coachella Valley, which is primarily composed of underserved, Latino communities, struggling with access to safe drinking water.
The article states that this study is groundbreaking, as it is purportedly the first to assess water quality from varied sources, including soda fountains, tap water, and water vending machines, especially in the Eastern Coachella Valley. It encompassed the collection and analysis of 72 water samples, with researchers recommending regular cleaning, flushing, and maintenance of water dispensers to prevent contamination. The findings have underscored the need for establishing stringent regulations and surveillance on water quality in fast-food restaurants and water dispensers in such marginalized areas. Further risk assessments are planned to ascertain the potential health hazards posed by the detected microbial levels.