Drinking water microbial myths

Crit Rev Microbiol. 2015;41(3):366-73. doi: 10.3109/1040841X.2013.849655. Epub 2013 Nov 25.


Accounts of drinking water-borne disease outbreaks have always captured the interest of the public, elected and health officials, and the media. During the twentieth century, the drinking water community and public health organizations have endeavored to craft regulations and guidelines on treatment and management practices that reduce risks from drinking water, specifically human pathogens. During this period there also evolved misunderstandings as to potential health risk associated with microorganisms that may be present in drinking waters. These misunderstanding or "myths" have led to confusion among the many stakeholders. The purpose of this article is to provide a scientific- and clinically-based discussion of these "myths" and recommendations for better ensuring the microbial safety of drinking water and valid public health decisions.

Keywords: Drinking water; microbial monitoring; pathogens; public health decisions; waterborne disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Drinking Water / microbiology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Water Purification
  • Waterborne Diseases / microbiology*


  • Drinking Water