Towards effective protection of water resources and human health

The covid-19 pandemic has shown us that public health can be endangered by "hidden enemies" like viruses that cannot be detected by our senses.

On the other hand, we are equipped with the best chemical sensor on the planet: our nose. So, when it comes to water which is fundamental to public health, can we trust our nose as a sentinel for water quality problems?

Researchers throughout Europe investigate how environment pollution and climate change accelerate the appearance of Tastes and Odors (T&O) in natural water sources and water supplies. Inappropriate water treatment or pipe materials can also cause these problems and make customers reluctant to drink tap water.

Understanding the causes, the chemical nature of T&O in water and the ways of detection and treatment are necessary steps for early alert of drinking water quality problems and effective protection of water resources and human health.

How to achieve progress beyond state-of-the-art in all aspects related to water T&O, is the focus of the WaterTOP COST Action. The project creates a unique multi-disciplinary network for increasing the capabilities and capacities in Europe for identification, risk assessment, early warning and control of water T&O associated problems.

The Action will promote transfer of know-how from food analyses to water testing, to develop and advance techniques such as: Flavor Profile Analyses (FPA), gas chromatography -mass spectroscopy based technologies (GCxGC, GC-O-MS and GC-HRMS) and Stable Isotope Dilution Assays (SIDA) method.

Applications of emerging advanced oxidation processes (AOP) such as the synergies of combined UV and chemical oxidation will be critically evaluated in the light of T&O removal technologies.

In addition valuable knowledge will be gained for risk assessment and management of water supply from source to tap, through identification of bioactivity and toxicity of T&O compounds and their transformation products, determination of T&O markers for early detection of water quality problems.

WaterTOP aims to maximize its impact through preparation of a number of useful tools and collaboration for enhancement of EU water polices.

A novel, open access database and a unique e-tool for T&O compounds will be developed for assisting the laboratories in detection, interpretation, and evaluation of the results.

WaterTOP will suggest preventive/corrective measures for T&O problems within the development of Water Safety Plans and will contribute to development of EU standards for relative methods of T&O testing and for materials in contact with water.

In line with the EU Green Deal targets, WaterTOP will also have positive impact on improving people's confidence in tap water, thus promoting the reduction of plastic bottles utilization.

WaterTOP is an open platform. Researchers and stakeholders, who are interested in T&O problems in water can become members of the Action.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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