Pseudomonas? What is it and is it dangerous?

Cathal Walsh
Environmental Blogger
Monday, 8th April 2019
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White text saying Pseudomonas, is your water safe? . Field of green bacteria in background

Have you noticed an earthy or a musty smell coming from your drinking water? This may also be accompanied by a strange or earthy taste when consuming the water.

A large cause of such a phenomenon is the presence of bacteria in drinking water, in particular the presence of Pseudomonas.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be found in soil, water and on plants. It is a type of pathogen which needs very little nutrition to survive so they can stick around for quite some time.

These bacteria are often found in carbon filters, cooling towers, drinking water dispensers, bottled water, and of course water taps. They cause a distinctively sour smell in damp dishcloths. The biofilm can be felt by hand in water systems with heavy contamination. This biofilm makes a system difficult to disinfect and as a result is often where the legionella bacteria is found.

Most of this species of bacteria are benign and cause no health risks, other than giving water an unappealing smell and taste. However some other bacteria may easily spread in these biofilms like E-Coli. This would result in the bacteria becoming harmful. Also, there is a Subspecies called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, this type of bacteria can cause ear and eye infections in persons with an already suppressed immune system.  This sub-species is one of the more common causes of infection and is becoming increasingly resistant to anti-biotics. If it is present in your water supply it may also lead to skin rashes and other irritations.

 To know whether or not you have this type of bacteria in your water it is important to get it tested regularly. This type of bacterium is mainly present around systems like water coolers and vending machines. Pseudomonas however thrive at warmer temperatures so they may be more likely to form in places like showers, baths and Jacuzzis.

Pseudomonas can often be very tough and long lasting bacteria, as a result when getting rid of them a two-step process is often needed.  For one a full disinfection of the water system and supply is necessary to get rid of the bacteria. Often however the second step of physically cleaning or scrubbing the system is needed as the bacteria tends to attach itself to surfaces and may be hard to flush out.

There are various treatments available when one discovers Pseudomonas in their water, these include chlorine, chlorine dioxide, ultraviolet, copper silver ionisation, ozone etc.  These treatments however are not guaranteed to eliminate all of the bacteria in the system , instead they may just reduce the levels of it considerably.

When dealing with the possibility of Pseudomonas in your water supply , the most important factor in combating risk is awareness. It is important to get your water tested for all types of bacteria regularly, especially if there are individuals living in your house with a compromised immune system.  

 For an advanced bacteria check follow the link

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