WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC STREET COOLERS IN SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Free (open access)
161 - 171
LUCY SEMERJIAN, SAHWA ABDELMONIM, NOURA AL-JABRI, AMNA YOUSEF
Street water coolers are available in selected areas of Sharjah (UAE) and are potential sources of drinking water for many individuals as a goodwill initiative to make cool water available to the general public. Yet, water quality from such dispensers may be subjected to recontamination due to possible lack of proper maintenance and clean up, corrosion, or unhygienic use. Thus, such drinking water sources need proper monitoring, routine maintenance and cleaning measures to safeguard public health. The aim of this study is to determine the quality of waters dispensed by street water coolers in selected areas of Sharjah. A total of sixty water samples were collected in accordance to standard water sampling protocols and analyzed for a list of water quality parameters. When compared to national and international drinking water guidelines, recorded results reveal that all investigated water samples exhibited a water quality in compliance with allowable levels of sulfates, nitrates, nitrites, and turbidity, and were microbiologically safe in terms of total coliforms. Thirty three percent of analyzed water samples exhibited soft water hardness while the remaining was moderately hard. Conductivity and pH levels were within acceptable national standards except for a single cooler with low average conductivity level of 15.95 uS/cm at 25°C, and another cooler with a single pH reading exceeding the acceptable pH level of 9.2. However, only 7% of analyzed samples satisfied the minimum residual chlorine requirements of 0.2 mg/L proposing a potential risk of recontamination. Iron, lead, and copper concentrations were within acceptable levels yet at instances, iron levels approached the maximum allowable levels suggesting the need for preventive maintenance. Visual observations revealed that most coolers (85%) were in an acceptable appearance with few coolers showing signs of corrosion and deterioration. Re-chlorination, routine maintenance and cleaning measures of street coolers are recommended to limit recontamination and safeguard public health.
public water coolers, drinking water quality, public health, United Arab Emirates