Sacchetti R, De Luca G, Guberti E, Zanetti F. Quality of Drinking Water Treated at Point of Use in Residential Healthcare Facilities for the Elderly. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2015 Sep 9;12(9):11163-77. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120911163.
Municipal tap water is increasingly treated at the point of use (POU) to improve the acceptability and palatability of its taste. The aim of this study was to assess the bacteriologic and nutritional characteristics of tap water treated at the point of use in residential healthcare facilities for the elderly. Two types of POU devices were used: microfiltered water dispensers (MWDs) and reverse-osmosis water dispensers (ROWDs). All samples of water entering the devices and leaving them were tested for the bacteriological parameters set by Italian regulations for drinking water and for opportunistic pathogens associated with various infections in healthcare settings; in addition, the degree of mineralization of the water was assessed. The results revealed widespread bacterial contamination in the POU treatment devices, particularly from potentially pathogenic species. As expected, the use of ROWDs led to a decrease in the saline content of the water. In conclusion, the use of POU treatment in healthcare facilities for the elderly can be considered advisable only if the devices are constantly and carefully maintained.