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Photo: aviation-images.com/Universal 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

President Joe Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden and Vice President Harris review readiness of military troops, a long-standing tradition to signify the peaceful transfer of power.

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.