Know your water: Water's role on the global Health Agenda

Drinking water should ideally be clear, and should have no odour or odd taste to it. Unsafe water supply is a daily health risk for many of us. Therefore, assuring high water quality is a central focus point in our development and production.

While being the source to all life on the planet, water poses a severe health risk when the supplied quality is not fit for drinking.

A global health concern

2.6 million people die every year from waterborne diseases. Around 840,000 die from simple Diarrhoea, 3.5 billion people drink water that is of dubious quality or directly harmful to their health, and 1.8 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces. About 360,000 children under the age of 5 die each year due to hygiene related illnesses. Another way of expressing the importance of water in relation to health, is that 272 million school days are lost worldwide due to a lack of sanitation available.

The most common diseases that can be related to water are Diarrhoea, Typhoid and Malaria. Diarrhoea is a symptom of an infection caused by many bacteriological, viral or parasitic organisms most of which propagate in contaminated water. It is more frequent when there is no available clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning and basic hygienic rules are not respected. To fight this plague, access to drinking water, improved sanitation, adapted food and personal hygiene are necessary, as well as health education on how the disease spreads.

Typhoid and paratyphoid fevers are infections caused by Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi bacteria. People may be infected when they eat food that was manipulated by a contaminated person or after drinking water contaminated by faeces or waste with bacteria. Personal hygiene, washing hands, clean water and adequate sanitation are recommended. A vaccine is available, but is not systematically recommended and does not offer complete protection against the infection.

Malaria is the most widespread infectious parasitic disease in the world. It is caused by a Plasmodium parasite transmitted at night by a female Anopheles mosquito. Without quick, efficient treatment, malaria can cause death. There is no vaccine to fight malaria. Since preventive antimalarial medications do not guarantee an absolute protection against the infection, it is important to protect oneself from mosquito-bites: mosquito nets, mosquito repellent, malaria prevention during pregnancy, early detection and control of malaria epidemics.

Do you know the quality of the water you drink?

For these reasons, water deserves a much greater place on the world's health agenda than it has today. The standard of living could be increased for many millions of people, if the quality of the water were taken more seriously. In the Western world, tap water is a natural part of our everyday lives, just as decent toilet conditions are not something you really think about.

If your tap water tastes metallic, smells fishy, or comes out cloudy, it could signal the presence of unsafe contaminants. Water that's safe to drink should ideally be clear, and should have no odour or odd taste. One way to tell if water is contaminated is to look for turbidity or cloudiness. While cloudy water isn't necessarily dangerous to your health, it could signal the presence of unsafe pathogens or chemicals.

But how is safe water quality obtained, and how do we address the issue in our daily business?

Water quality and AVK product development

In Denmark, we are fortunate to be able to drink the water directly from the tap. The water supply in Denmark is 100% based on groundwater, which, after very simple sand filtration and aeration, is sent into the distribution network to consumers. This fact has always been a focus point at AVK, when we develop and manufacture our products.

Nothing in an AVK product should have a knock-on effect on the water it handles. As mentioned, water must taste of water - not of metal, epoxy coating or rubber. Nor must the water take color or flavor from an AVK product. At AVK, we continuously control our production in relation to these parameters. This is particularly important when speaking of the wedge in our valves, the sealing element in our butterfly valves or the gasket in our couplings, all of which consist of rubber, which is the most optimal sealing material.

AVK has obtained both national and international drinking water approvals, all of which confirm the use of our products for drinking water. Prior to all these approvals lies a huge amount of work in development, laboratory testing and performance tests - both simulated as well as on-site - before the subject is sent to the approval institute in that market.

"Water tasters" set the standards

Every time we develop a new rubber type that needs to be in contact with drinking water or other foods, at AVK GUMMI A/S, samples of the new rubber are put in mineral water and set aside for about one week. The mineral water with the samples is then presented to a panel of experienced "tasters" who assess the water quality on the basis of three important criteria: Smell, taste and colour. In order for the new rubber type to be passed on for approval, all three criteria must be met. No smell, no color and no taste of rubber.

Both our national as well as international approvals are your guarantee that an AVK product can be included in a safe and healthy water supply network.

Learn more about how we assure i.e. traceability and quality in our AVK Rubber here.

 

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