Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mineral water contamination claim

08.04.2002


Signs of virus from human faeces found in bottled water.

Mineral water is marketed for its purity. But Swiss scientists are claiming that some brands may be contaminated with human faeces.

In 11 of 29 European brands of bottled mineral water Christian Beuret and colleagues of the Cantonal Food Laboratory in Solothurn found signs of the virus that causes more than 90% of the world’s stomach upsets 1,2. The virus is called Norwalk-like virus or NLV.



"We didn’t believe the results at first, so we got them independently confirmed by a private Swiss lab," says Beuret. "We think human faeces are sporadically contaminating the water either at the source or some time during the bottling procedure." They have no idea how this might be occurring.

Nor do the scientists know whether or not the water poses a health risk, as the samples cannot be tested for infectiveness. But unpublished evidence suggests that low levels of the virus in mineral water may give some elderly people gastroenteritis.

The findings are contentious but raise real concerns, says Barry Vipond of the Public Health Laboratory in Bristol, UK. "Current views are that you only need a very low level - in the range they found - of active virus for it to be infectious," he says. However, he cautions that the technique Beuret’s team used, called RT-PCR, is prone to contamination.

The mineral-water industry also picks up on this point. A statement from a leading company that markets bottled water says: "The RT-PCR technique is not suited to the routine analysis of potentially very weakly contaminated water." It also points out that NLV was not detected when six laboratories, including Beuret’s, analysed 300 bottles of five brands. This study has not been published.

Water margins

NLV’s genome is made not of double strands of DNA but its single-stranded relative RNA. In the mineral water Beuret’s team detected RNA sequences commonly found in the faeces of people infected with NLV.

A year later, nine out of ten virus-containing bottles were still contaminated. Such longevity suggests that an envelope of proteins surrounds the virus protecting its RNA. These proteins also make the virus infectious.

But NLV RNA has been spotted in healthy people, says Tamie Ando, who studies viral gastroenteritis at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Atlanta. So some strains may lie dormant in the body without causing disease, he says.

"Although we don’t know whether the strains found in the mineral water are dangerous, the work is very important because we need to learn how our environment has been contaminated by these viruses," Ando says.

References
  1. Beuret, C., Kohler, D. & Luthi, T. "Norwalk-like Virus Sequences" detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in mineral waters imported into or bottled in Switzerland. Journal of Food Protection, 63, 1576 - 1582, (2000).
  2. Beuret, C., Kohler, D., Baumgartner, A. & Luthi, T.M. Norwalk-like virus (NVL)-sequences in mineral waters: One year monitering of three brands. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68, 1925 - 1931, (2002).


NATASHA MACDOWELL | © Nature News Service

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Candidate Ebola vaccine still effective when highly diluted, macaque study finds
21.10.2019 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Autism spectrum disorder risk linked to insufficient placental steroid
21.10.2019 | Children's National Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer LBF and BAM develop faster procedure for flame-retardant plastics

21.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

For EVs with higher range: Take greater advantage of the potential offered by lightweight construction materials

21.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

Benefit and risk: Meta-analysis draws a heterogeneous picture of drug-coated balloon angioplasty

21.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>