Bottle water storage location and its impact on microbiogical quality


In recent decades the quality and safety of bottled water has come into question, while bottled water sales and demand have steadily grown. It is important that consumers as well as manufacturers are made aware of the microbial environment of bottled water. Many studies have been implemented to evaluate the microbiological content of bottled water. Although some laboratory studies have shown that microbial counts of bottled water can reach as high as 16^3 CFU/mL, few studies, if any, have studied the impact of storage location on bottled water microbial activity.

This document reports on an investigation that evaluated the microbiological quality of bottled water relative to storage conditions and storage duration. Unlike previous studies that evaluated bottled water having been stored under the laboratory conditions, the work conducted in this study evaluated storage scenarios that included a car trunk, covered porch, indoor cabinet and refrigerator. These storage conditions allow for comparison of prior studies conducted in the laboratory to more realistic storage coniditions used by consumers. Analyses of bottled water under these alternative storage conditions indicated that microbial growth did occur in stored water and varied between lcoation and holding time. It was determined that heterotrophic plate counts (HPCs) were greater in warmer storage environments as was exhibited by the refrigerated and indoor locations.

Additionally, mathematical models were developed in this work that predicted the microbial growth rate in bottled water as a function of holding time, using commonly available statistical software that evaluated data predicted using an exponential model (R2 correlation of up to 0.84) for two different storage conditions.

Although increased levels of HPC bacteria are generally safe for those in good health, they are used as an indicator test for microbial quality. Furthermore, higher levels of HPC have also been shown to pose some additional health risks to immunocomprimised individuals. Therefore, results from the study would indicate that it may be beneficial for consumers to store their bottled water indoors or in a refrigerator.


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Thesis Completion





Duranceau, Steven J.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Environmental Engineering


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science;Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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