Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #856
Program Date: 03/28/2017
Program Category: Alberta, Health and Medicine, Waste Management, Water

Dr Nicholas Ashbolt 2017: Plumbing, Pathogens and Probiotics

Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

He's now three years into his seven year appointment as the Alberta Innovates Translational Health Chair in Water.

His research is focused on reforming the regulatory framework for water services.

And he's investigating better ways to manage risks from pathogens in our drinking water.

DR NICHOLAS ASHBOLT:  I'm talking about initially the drinking water that arrives to our buildings, so through our main conveyance systems, the distribution systems of drinking water, (It) comes to us as very good quality clean water here in Alberta.    But in our buildings it can sit and stagnate in quite small diameter pipes where there's a lot of slime or biofilm on the walls of those pipes.  And in certain cases that can lead to growth of organisms like Legionella pneumophila and other respiratory pathogens.  So when we turn on the shower or turn on our spa baths, we can inhale these sorts of pathogens through aerosols.  

According to Dr. Ashbolt, one solution to controlling pathogens in water and cleaning up our plumbing may be the introduction of probiotic micro-organisms.

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