Water companies are required to ensure the ‘wholesomeness’ of drinking water and it is vital to ensure that water quality is acceptable to consumers. Many customer complaints concern taste and odour and WRc's National Centre for Environmental Toxicology (NCET) has noted that there is an increasing trend of enquiries involving plasticisers.
The definition of wholesome includes the assurance that water does not have an unacceptable taste or odour. Some water companies have reported customers complaining of taste and odour in drinking water that disappeared by the time investigative samples were taken.
Discussions with water company quality officers indicate that they are often detecting low concentrations of plasticiser in their GCMS scans, and are receiving customer complaints, and some have noted that a number of “chlorine” taste complaints are actually due to "plasticisers" in non-approved fittings. Others have suggested that boundary boxes may be leaching plasticisers into supply causing these taste and odour events. However, little is known about the thresholds at which plasticisers elicit detectable taste and odour in drinking water.
This project will establish taste and odour thresholds for selected plasticisers addressing the knowledge gap and providing evidence to support action plans that companies can take to reduce or prevent customer complaints.
BUSINESS BENEFITS TO CLIENTS
Overall reduction in customer contacts and savings in time and money in mitigating customer complaints through:
- Identification of possible sources of contamination leading to improved risk mitigation and therefore less likelihood of repeat contamination.
- Improved efficiency in dealing with plasticiser contamination therefore a quicker return to the “wholesomeness” of water.
- Less repeat laboratory analysis saving time and money.
- Literature review of plasticisers and sources (boundary boxes, fittings etc.) and known conditions of leaching, migration or release into drinking water.
- Literature review of taste and odour thresholds of plasticisers that have been identified as potentially reaching drinking water.
- Laboratory based experiments to establish taste and odour thresholds for selected plasticisers that have been identified as potentially reaching drinking water.
PROJECT OUTPUT AND IMPLEMENTATION
- A review of plasticisers and their sources and occurrence in drinking water
- Taste and odour thresholds for selected plasticisers that have been identified as potentially reaching drinking water
- Guidance on how to use the information in mitigation strategies
These outputs will assist water companies by providing a method of identifying the source of taste and odour, allowing their isolation and mitigation
RELATED WRc WORK
- UKWIR Toxicity Advisory Service, ongoing
- CP482 Rapid Tracking of Hydrocarbons, ongoing