Time and time again when working with a client to isolate the source of contamination in their products or manufacturing facility, we ultimately determine that water is the source of the problem.
Although it may seem like a benign agent in the manufacturing and cleaning process, our experience has shown that water is frequently the root of many contamination or product quality problems.
Water can not only cause microbial contamination but can introduce other contaminants such as heavy metals into the manufacturing environment. Whether water is used in the product or used for cleaning, it has a ubiquitous presence in most facilities.
Metropolitan water systems are notorious for supplying less than optimum water quality. What may be acceptable for drinking may not meet the more stringent standards needed for quality assurance or regulatory compliance.
Anyone who has spent time in a water testing laboratory knows that even if the tap water passes requirements one day, it may fail the next day due to factors such as heavy local rainfall, underground construction, or repair projects in proximity to your facility. When source water is the problem, it can spread to other points in the facility water system, despite diligent efforts to prevent this from occurring.
Even firms that believe they are doing everything they can to treat the water entering the plant can end up with higher microbial counts and biofilm issues because the source water has taken a turn for the worse.
In addition to strict microbiological screening and heavy metals analysis using sensitive methods such as Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), other methods including Total Organic Carbon (TOC) determination and Conductivity measurement also can provide a snapshot of water quality. TOC measurement indicates the carbon present and can validate the efficacy of cleaning and sanitation procedures. Conductivity can indicate the presence of alkalis, chlorides, sulfides, and carbonate compounds.
No matter how innocuous you believe the water entering your facility may be, a comprehensive water testing program is the best way to determine what this tasteless, colorless liquid may be doing to your products and processes. Testing the water at multiple points in your water system will give the best determination of quality and compliance.