Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #857
Program Date: 03/30/2017
Program Category: Alberta, Health and Medicine, Waste Management, Water

Dr Nicholas Ashbolt 2017: Copper vs Plastic Plumbing

Just like the human gastro-intestinal system, our household plumbing can be pushed out of balance by the wrong slime or microbiome that inhabits the pipes.

That's why Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt  is looking at probiotics to improve that situation. 

Dr. Ashbolt holds the Alberta Innovates Translational Health Chair in Water at the University of Alberta.

DR NICHOLAS ASHBOLT:  We're finding that plastic pipe like PVC or PEX pipe, creates a different microbiome than what we see on traditional pipe surfaces like copper pipe.  And whilst there's less growth on copper pipe, less biofilm, we actually see that the organisms that grow there support legionella much more so than on plastic pipe.  So we're looking at can we have an upstream plastic pipe - we call it a selector, that selects for the right probiotic organisms - to see whether we can actually deliberately colonize the downstream copper pipe with preferential organisms that will suppress the growth of these opportunistic pathogens.  

Dr Ashbolt's  research indicates, however, one of the complicating factors is the use of chlorine as a disinfectant


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