Investigation of microbial communities in water dispensers
Water dispensers remove disinfectant residues from tap water and thus are commonly present in Korean households; however, microbial contamination in water dispensers has recently become a major issue. To understand the occurrence of microbial contamination in water dispensers, we investigated microbial contamination in different dispenser types through heterotrophic plate count (HPC) and MiSeq-based microbial community analyses. Two newly purchased water dispensers were placed in a basement room and left for approximately 2 months; the HPC analysis indicated microbial contamination in the drinking water collected from these dispensers (160,000 and 48,000 CFU/mL, respectively). Taxonomic classification indicated that the basement dispensers were likely contaminated by freshwater bacteria, such as Acidovorax and Methylotenera. However, two dispensers located at the half landing and the first floor showed lower microbial contamination (110 and 78 CFU/mL, respectively). Furthermore, frequently used dispenser on the first floor showed higher HPCs on the faucet surface, which were classified as general oral bacteria like Hyphobacterium. We also observed that a deserted dispenser (6-year-old with no maintenance) placed on the half landing showed the least HPCs, although it seemed to have lost its filtration ability. Our results suggested that removal of disinfectant residues leads to an increase in the freshwater bacterial population in water tanks within dispensers, which could be avoided by frequent water circulation.
KeywordsDisinfectant residue Heterotrophic plate count Microbial community analysis Water dispenser
This study was conducted as a project of National Institute of Environmental Research funded by the Korean government (1900-1946-303-210).
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