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How safe is Vienna’s drinking water?

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How safe is Vienna’s drinking water?
darwin Bell/Flickr
11:58 CEST+02:00
Vienna is famous for the high quality of its drinking water, a fact confirmed once again by a study recently published by the University of Vienna.

Researchers warned, however, that it could be at risk of contamination if potentially harmful nanoparticles end up in the drinking water.

The university presented the results of a study looking at the potential water contamination by nanoparticles on Thursday.

Nanoparticles are tiny particles the size of one millionths to one ten-thousandth of a millimetre. They are being used in more and more everyday products, such as cosmetics and clothes.

Because they produce stronger, lighter and cleaner surfaces, they are also particularly useful when it comes to making products such as scratch-proof sunglasses and stain-repellent fabrics.

After they are used, however, they end up back in the environment and can contaminate drinking water. It is not known for sure what risk is caused by nanoparticles, although it is believed synthetic nanoparticles could be damaging for natural eco-systems.

The growth of nanotechnology has been a significant issue worldwide for environmental agencies in the past ten years as their use has increased.

Thilo Hofmann, an environmental geologist at the university worked with the DVGW Water Technology Centre in Karlsruhe to study water treatment plants and how much of the nanoparticles remain in the drinking water.

Although researchers could not determine the level of risk posed by nanoparticles, the results of the study concluded simply that the less serious the original pollution was, the less nanoparticles end up in the drinking water. 

The researchers could also confirm the widely-held belief that Viennese drinking water is of the highest quality, as it comes from fresh water springs in the mountains.

“The good news: the Viennese water is relatively safe,” the researchers wrote in a press release. They added that this does not exclude the potential for danger because the Karst rock that filters the ground water does little to filter out nanoparticles.

For now, however, there is nothing to worry about because the locations where Viennese water comes from are very well preserved and there is little intensive farming which is a cause of contamination.

Written by: Helena Uhl

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