Safe drinking water is critical for home and business use including dental facilities around the world. In fact, safe water is one of the United NationsMillennium Development Goals. All public water systems in the US (supplying water to approximately 90% of the public) are required to follow the standards and regulations set by theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA operates in partnership with the states, tribes, water systems and their operators.
Water systems regularly test for approximately 90 contaminants to make sure that no contaminant is present at levels that may pose a risk to human health. Unfortunately, water quality can sometimes change and despite the efforts of water suppliers, problems with drinking water can and do occur. When this happens, public water systems must notify their customers.
A boil-water advisory is a public health announcement that the public should boil tap water before drinking it. When issued, the public should assume the water is unsafe to drink.
During a boil-water advisory, water should not be delivered to patients through the dental unit, ultrasonic scaler, or other dental equipment that uses the public water system. This restriction does not apply if the water source is isolated from the municipal water system (e.g., a separate water reservoir or other water treatment device cleared for marketing by FDA). Patients should rinse with bottled or distilled water until the boil-water advisory has been cancelled. During these advisory periods, tap water should not be used to dilute germicides or for hand hygiene unless the water has been brought to a rolling boil for >1 minute and cooled before use. For hand hygiene, antimicrobial products that do not require water (e.g., alcohol-based hand rubs) can be used until the boil-water notice is cancelled. If hands are visibly contaminated, bottled water and soap should be used for handwashing; if bottled water is not immediately available, an antiseptic towelette should be used.
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