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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #858
Program Date: 04/04/2017
Program Category: Alberta, Health and Medicine, Water

Dr Nicholas Ashbolt 2017: U-Bends and Superbugs

When it comes to water quality and disease, it's time to change the design of water treatment, transport and plumbing.

That's the advice of Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt. 

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

Take the lowly U-bend, for example.

DR NICHOLAS ASHBOLT:  All that water goes down the sink and waste lines in buildings.  And in the U-bends in those, we're finding they also get colonized by bacteria and worse, they get colonized, particularly in healthcare settings, by antibiotic resistant bacteria.    And in multi-rise buildings when you flush a toilet upstairs, there are some pressure waves that can pulse and aerosolize those resistant bacteria from the U-bends back into the bathroom of that facility.    And indeed, there have been some classic examples now in Europe, where antibiotic resistant bacteria are chronically infecting people in the one room in a hospital environment And its realized that it is because it's coming from the U-bends which are never cleaned out because people hadn't realized the nature of this risk pathway before. 

Dr. Ashbolt is testing one solution to the U-bend problem, and that's vacuum plumbing.


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