Environmental Agency Says 13 Percent Of Airline Drinking Water
The EPA says results from initial
testing of drinking water onboard 158 randomly selected passenger
airplanes shows that most of the aircraft tested (87.4%) met EPA
drinking water quality standards. However, 12.6 percent of domestic
and international passenger aircraft tested at US airports carried
water that did not meet EPA standards.
The EPA said a lot of the below-standards water was infected
with a bacteria called coliform. Enforcement chief Tom Skinner said
passengers who have problematic immune systems might consider
bringing their own H2O.
Skinner said the EPA reviewing existing guidance to determine
areas where it might be strengthened, concluding water quality
protection agreements with the airlines, and taking enforcement
actions where warranted.
In response to the aircraft test results, EPA has accelerated
its priority review of existing water supply regulations and
guidance. The Agency is placing specific emphasis on preventive
measures, adequate monitoring, and sound maintenance practices such
as flushing and disinfection of aircraft water systems.
Hard on the heels of that announcement from the EPA, the
Department of Transportation issued its own statement on airline
The US Department of Transportation
supports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its effort to
ensure clean and safe drinking water for airline passengers. While
there is concern about EPA's findings, the Department is encouraged
that the airline industry is already taking action to address the
quality of its drinking water. The Department will continue to
cooperate with the EPA as the government and industry work together
to address the issue of water quality aboard airlines.
Then there's this statement from the Air Transport
While we are confident that airline
drinking water is safe, we take the EPA’s findings seriously
and are working collaboratively with the agency to resolve any
questions about the quality of airline drinking water.
However, we are concerned that the agency’s findings are
inconsistent with recent studies that have demonstrated the safety
of drinking water on commercial aircraft. Those studies include
tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration as well as a
comprehensive study conducted by the Air Transport Association with
EPA oversight. Both studies found that airline drinking water is
free of contaminants that might pose health risks.
In contrast with the ATA study, EPA's findings are based on a
small sample (approximately 1% of the worldwide fleet) that does
not allow any statistical conclusions about aircraft drinking
water. There also are questions about how the EPA collected water
samples, specifically what measures were taken to safeguard against
Fortunately, no one has gotten sick from airline drinking water.
There are no reported cases of illnesses due to aircraft drinking
water. And there were no adverse health effects found in the EPA
study or any other federal study, for that matter.
Additionally, US airlines continue to follow well-established
practices to ensure a safe supply of drinking water on board
commercial aircraft, including the routine disinfection of water
tanks under longstanding EPA and FDA guidelines.