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2015|16 Annual Report Fraunhofer IGB

118 0% 1.4% 8.2% 18% 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 4% 6% 2% lead nickel A WATER TEST FOR EVERY HOUSEHOLD Gabriele Beck-Schwadorf, Susanne M. Bailer Water – an important food product Drinking water is tested very carefully in Germany. It complies with the legal prerequisites of the Drinking Water Ordinance, which ensure that communal water suppliers only supply water that is of the highest quality. However, there is also a significant number of self-sufficient households in ermany In addition, external factors that are not controlled by the water supplier may also affect water quality. Fraunhofer IGB, in collaboration with an industrial partner, provides compre- hensive water analysis for such cases. To date, this water qual- ity check focused purely on chemical and physical properties. Bacteriological tests for germ load in the water samples have now been added. Water that is low in nitrates (< 10 mg/L), for example, should be used for the production of baby food as nitrate increases the risk of cyanosis in babies. Water from wells that is used as drinking water or for watering vegetables and herbs must also be tested for heavy metals and nitrate, as well as pathogens. The effect of plumbing and fittings Drinking water must comply with both chemical and micro- biological specifications owever, much can happen over the final meters of pipe that the drinking water passes through from the supplier to the faucet Plumbing and fittings are a particularly critical area with reference to the supply of drink- ing water. Causes of adverse effects on water quality may be due, for example, to construction materials – lead pipes were often installed up to In addition, the fittings indepen- dent of brand and price – may release metals like nickel or chromium into the water. Above all, pipes that are rarely used and filled with standing water may result in the accumula- tion of heavy metals and bacteria. Furthermore, in Germany, around one million people are self-sufficient, using wells as their water supply. These are not subject to any control and there are often no options for analyzing the water quality. Recent analysis A recent analysis of over 1500 water samples from German households revealed that almost every tenth sample exceeded the permissible threshold for nickel, as defined in the rinking Water Ordinance. Intensive agricultural exploitation of land and soil may also pollute the groundwater, including with nitrates. Almost 16 percent of the water samples from house- hold wells revealed elevated nitrate values. ENVIRONMENT 21