What types of Germs, Bacteria, and Microbial Organisms can be found in municipal water systems?

The Contaminant Candidate List sounds like it might be a registry of anti-environmental office seekers published by the Sierra Club.

But it’s actually a list of the contaminants in public drinking water that may require regulation, and the Environmental Protection Agency is required to issue such a list every five years.

The last one came out in 1998, and in addition to dozens of different chemical contaminants, it lists 10 scary microbial organisms that might be found in municipal water systems around the country and might have to be added to the list of contaminants already regulated:

• Acanthamoeba (guidance expected for contact lens wearers)
• Adenoviruses
• Aeromonas hydrophila
• Caliciviruses
• Coxsackie viruses
• Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), other freshwater algae, and their toxins
• Echoviruses
• Helicobacter pylori
• Microsporidia (enterocytozoon & septata)
• Mycobacterium avium intracellulare (MAC)

There are some real gems on this list. Helicobacter pylori, for example, causes peptic ulcers. Coxsackie viruses cause a disease in children that gives them a fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters.

Adenoviruses cause respiratory illness, whose symptoms range from the common cold syndrome to pneumonia, croup, bronchitis, and conjunctivitis. Acanthamoeba can cause a deadly infection called granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE). You get headaches, a stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures, and hallucinations.

Central nervous system infections with acanthamoeba are almost invariably fatal. And this is just the stuff that isn’t yet regulated.

What’s tracked, reported on, and regulated, you can be pretty sure, is even worse.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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