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[Infographic] Contaminants That Could Be Lurking in Your Bottled Water Cooler Dispensers

Do You Know What's Lurking In Your Office Water Cooler?

Last Updated; 1/5/2021

Americans are a thirsty population and water continues to be the most popular drink of choice in the United States. In fact, in 2018, bottled water accounted for 25 percent of beverage consumption.[1] In 2019, Americans consumed 14.4 billion gallons of bottled water.[2] And in the wake of the 2020 pandemic, bottled water rose by 52.2% as consumers stockpiled plastic water bottles to ensure they had access to clean drinking water during their quarantine.[3] Unfortunately, despite the increased amount of water consumption, the fact of the matter remains that most traditional water cooler dispensers pose health risks.

Many Americans who spend long hours in the office often turn to their water cooler dispensers as their primary source of drinking water. Yet, coworkers can unintentionally contaminate their 5-gallon water jug dispensers by refilling used water bottles and touching spigots with unwashed hands. A dozen or more coworkers can easily infect the entire office water supply by refilling used 5-gallon water jugs and touching spigots with unwashed hands. Ergo Web reports that there are an estimated 2.7 million germs on office water spigots around the country. One study even found that over 60 percent of bottled water cooler dispensers were contaminated with microorganisms beyond acceptable levels.[4]

Quench values transparency, and not just because we provide businesses with clear drinking water. We pieced together the list below to offer a comprehensive overview of the most common contaminants found in 5-gallon water jug dispensers. Read on to discover how you can keep your office water clean and safe to drink.

Common Contaminants Found in Bottled Water Cooler Dispensers

1. Heterotrophs

 Heterotrophs are a group of microorganisms (yeast, molds, and bacteria) that feed off organic carbon. Only a small number of heterotrophs is considered acceptable in normal drinking water. Traditional 5-gallon water jug dispensers can be a breeding ground for heterotrophs since they are often “open” systems, which means the cooler is capable of drawing in air from outside the tank. Everything from the outside environment is capable of being introduced into the cooler, including heterotroph bacteria. Once inside a water cooler, certain types of bacteria can feed in rubbers and seals within the dispenser and multiply.[5]

2. Chemical Residue

Cleaning your coolers a few times a week may rid your office water of unsafe levels of heterotrophic bacteria. However, introducing cleaning supplies to your office water is likely to create a new set of issues. Most cleaning processes include bleach or chlorine. Those chemicals are great for ridding your drinking water of bacteria, yet you must be careful that they are thoroughly flushed out after every clean. Leftover chlorine or bleach in your bottled water cooler dispenser could spell trouble for your employees and guests.

3. Algae

The chances of your 5-gallon water jug dispenser turning green are very high considering water and light are the only two ingredients needed to make algae. While green algae are non-toxic, they can be quite off-putting and can even impact the flavor and smell of your workplace water.

Illnesses Caused by Contaminated Water

Contaminated workplace water is not only unappetizing, but it can also pose a health risk to coworkers. Certain species of bacteria that are common in bottled water cooler dispensers can cause a person to contract Legionnaires’ disease, which causes flu-like symptoms and can eventually turn into pneumonia.

Dirty office water has also been known to cause a non-fatal respiratory disease called Pontiac fever. More common viruses like the cold tend to be transmitted around water cooler dispensers as well since coolers are often handled by multiple people throughout the day.

Read Quench’s Office Cleaning Guide to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19.

Get a Filtered Water Dispenser with a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Switch out your bottled water coolers for filtered water dispensers and forget worrying about catching dangerous illnesses in the workplace. Quench filtered water dispensers offer anti-microbial protection, built-in sanitization technology, and reverse osmosis water filters. All those technologies work together to ensure your water is free of bacteria, dangerous chemicals, and algae. The reverse osmosis water filters within our filtered water dispensers do a great job of removing sediment, chemicals, heavy metals, and other impurities. Meanwhile, UV filters eliminate up to 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The anti-microbial surface protection on filtered water dispensers ensures that the water stays pure all the way to the glass.

On top of all that, Quench offers a wide array of touchless products to reduce cross-contamination within the workplace. Thanks to touchless water dispensers, you no longer have to worry about multiple people handling the same cooler throughout the day. With machines like the Quench Q8, employees can dispense great-tasting filtered water using sensor dispensing technology. No touching or pressing required. Check it out!

If you’re interested in learning more about how Quench’s filtered water dispensers with built-in reverse osmosis water filters with anti-microbial protection can improve the health and safety of your workplace environment, give your local Quench Water Expert a call at 888-877-0561 or click the green get a quote button on your screen.

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/387199/us-consumption-share-of-beverages-by-segment

[2] https://www.theshelbyreport.com/2020/05/21/bottled-water-consumption-increases

[3] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bottled-beverages-see-rising-demand-amid-covid-19—popular-online-delivery-services-seeing-greater-orders-than-ever-before-301049570.html

[4] https://www.askdrmanny.com/whats-lurking-office-water-cooler/

[5] https://purewaterwny.com/bacteria-prevention