Just when you think you might be safe avoiding germs and contaminants, bottled water rears its ugly head and exposes its dirty little secrets.
You might think that a 5-gallon jug of bottled water is the best method to keep workers healthy and safe but the opposite is true and here’s why. Someone has to lift that gigantic bottle of water (and possibly hurt themselves in the meantime) to get it into the cooler.
So what’s the big deal?
The Mouth and the Spout
The problem is that someone has to place their hand(s) on the mouth of the jug as it’s being lifted and shoved into place. And then there’s the spout — that little dispensing mechanism — as well as its internal working parts. They are breeding grounds for dispensing germs along with your water.
Here’s how it happens. Susie from Accounting regularly fills her water bottle from the cooler in the break room. Susie doesn’t know it yet but she was exposed to the flu when she went to a rock concert this past weekend.
She places the mouth of her bottle under the water cooler spigot – the very bottle she’s been sipping from all morning because she feels dehydrated from the fever she’s starting to spike – and now you have the whole office exposed to the same flu Susie is coming down with.
Cleaning the Cooler
Yes, even water coolers need to be cleaned. This may be overlooked because you might think that since bottle coolers use a safe plastic jug, it doesn’t need maintenance right?
National Science Foundation International states that 2.7 million germs can be found in one square inch of a water cooler.
The spigot should be soaked in boiling water to kill any germs and then use a brush on the reservoir and spigot.
Lifting Jugs Can Be Harmful, Too
The water jugs that are commonly used in offices weigh about 40 pounds. It’s not uncommon to injure your back, arms or hands trying to lift and position the water jug into the cooler.
And, yes, you may lift it properly with your legs but then you have to navigate getting the bottle positioned correctly to go into the small space for the neck of the jug, but what happens when you’re off balance? You could easily drop the jug and hurt yourself.
And Then There’s BPA
The five-gallon water jugs commonly used in offices frequently can leach a chemical called BPA. Short for Bisphenol A, BPA has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, heart disease and cognitive problems in addition to asthma and diabetes.
Babies and youngsters are particularly at risk because they metabolize BPA far slower than adults. Here’s a scary statistic from the Environmental Working Group as reported by The Huffington Post: In a recent study, nine out of 10 babies had BPA in their umbilical cord blood.
Our Planet’s Health is at Risk
Manufacturing the bottles used for bottled water is taking a huge toll on the health of our planet. These companies throw millions of pollutants into the atmosphere during manufacturing and transportation. The water from remote sources is also processed and packaged into petroleum products.
Landfills are the repositories of up to 30 million water bottles every year and that number keeps growing annually.
The answer is to move to a plastic-free water purification system, which will give your employees and their families peace of mind and a healthy alternative to plastic jugs.