Sep 21, 2019

Study: Airplanes possibly giving passengers unhealthy water

Photo: Images Group/Getty Images

Several airlines have reportedly given their passengers unsafe drinking water, according to a new study from the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center at the City University of New York.

Why it matters: Most of the airlines' water samples tested positive for E. Coli and coliform bacteria. The study also found that when the Environmental Protection Agency does find a violation under the 2011 Aircraft Drinking Water Rule, it rarely implements penalties.

The main takeaways of this study are to only drink water from a sealed bottle, avoid coffee or tea and use hand sanitizer while in flight.

  • A plane's water can become contaminated when it is loaded onto a flight using temporary connections (including carts, hoses, trucks, etc.), if the water system is poorly maintained or biofilm grows, the Washington Post reports.

What they found... Researchers investigated the onboard water quality of 11 major and 12 regional airlines, and ranked them:

  • They found that of the major airlines, Alaska Airlines and Allegiant had the highest water-quality score, while JetBlue and Spirit Airlines had the worst.
  • 11 of the airlines received poor water health scores, except for Piedmont Airlines, which had high water quality. Republic Airways had the worst.

Background: This isn't the first time a spotlight has been shined on airplane water quality.

  • In 2004, the EPA revealed that public water systems were non-compliant with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations.

Go deeper

The water crisis cities don't see coming

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Aging water treatment systems, failing pipes and a slew of unregulated contaminants threaten to undermine water quality in U.S. cities of all sizes.

Why it matters: There's arguably nothing more important to human survival than access to clean drinking water.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

EPA plans overhaul on testing water for lead contamination

The water plant in Flint, Michigan. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The EPA plans on issuing a proposal that would change how communities test their drinking water for lead and force quicker action when water is contaminated, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This proposal is the first update to the EPA's lead and copper rule in nearly three decades and would — theoretically — prevent another situation like the one that took place in Flint, Michigan, from arising.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Caltech receives $750 million for climate research

Lynda (L) and Stewart (R) Resnick own the Wonderful Company, which is home to Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful, Wonderful Pistachios and Teleflora. Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Turner

Billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick will be donating $750 million to the California Institute of Technology to build a research center and support projects focusing on combating climate change, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: This is the second largest gift to an American university in history.

Go deeperArrowSep 26, 2019