Water consumption

In Germany, every person consumes between 3 and 5 liters per day for drinking and cooking. Another 46 liters per day for showering and nearly 70 liters for washing clothes, for toilet flushing, for washing dishes and for irrigation.

If you take the average life expectancy in Germany of about 80 years, every person consumes up to 150,000 liters of water during his life.

Illness or symptoms Endangerment by Occurrences especially in
Diarrhea, vomiting, fever Faecal germs (E-coli, coliforms, enterococci and others) Sources in the Alps and low mountain ranges, wells with low depth, city networks in case of pipeline damage and in intact condition
Infectious diseases, in critical cases fatal course Virus
Diarrhea, vomiting, fever, in critical cases fatal course Parasites
Legionellosis (severe pneumonia), Pontiac fever Legionella Public water supplies, especially in hot water networks. Strong propagation in stagnant areas of the pipelines
Inflammation, pus, pneumonia Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cold water supplies from groundwater resources
Antibiotic resistance, allergies Antibiotic residues Gets by the domestic and commercial – especially animal breeding plays a role – sewage into rivers, lakes and groundwater, from there into the drinking water.
Change in hormone balance, infertility Endocrine disruptors (natural and artificial estrogens, industrial chemicals, pesticides) Human and animal excretions reach the groundwater from there. Boat painting, application in agriculture, packaging material.
Pathological changes of organs and tissue, allergic reactions Pesticides Entry into the groundwater over agriculture, fruits and vegetables
Plasticizers made of plastics Plastic films for food packaging, plastic bottles, plastic packaging

Health hazard

Many hazards can arise from drinking and service water, and this applies to both tap and bottled water! Especially considering the large amount of water that you consume during your life and come in contact with one, even the smallest amounts of some substances can accumulate the body and thus achieve significant effects.


Faecal bacteria

Faecal germs occur again and again in public water supplies. In Bavaria, the State Food Safety and Health Bureau documents pathogenic faecal germs in 2008 in up to 10% of all public water supplies that produce more than 1 million liters of water per year and in up to 34% of all public water supplies with less than 1 million production output in the year.

Also in samples of mineral and table water many germs are detected. Often, this can be attributed to the presence of germs in the wells and non-sterile bottling conditions associated with long waterway transport, exposing the water to warm temperatures in the sun, warm trucks, or heated distribution centers for a long time. The Bavarian State Office for Food Safety and Health identifies coliform faecal germs in up to 13% of bottled water bottles tested and up to 3% in mineral water bottles tested.


Viruses can repeatedly occur in drinking water in public supply networks and thereby cause infectious diseases. While this has previously been observed mainly for hepatitis A and hepatitis E, several major and minor epidemics of Norwalk virus infections have been reported in recent years, including in Europe. All drinking water-relevant viruses originate from faeces and are still regularly detectable in the wastewater even after multistage conventional clarification. They are easily accessible to the approved disinfection process, as far as they are not integrated into larger particles. Consequently, the particle separation in the treatment is of particular importance. The freedom from viruses of the dispensed drinking water can not be detected with the required safety by virological examinations.

The standard analysis of 100 mL samples for E. coli and coliform bacteria is also insufficient. Consequently, in areas where the risk of contaminating drinking water with faeces is high, the risk of contamination of the water with viruses is increased. This often includes drinking water supplies in the Alps or the low mountain ranges.


Parasites, especially the parasite species Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia caused repeated epidemics, most recently in the years between 1980 and 2000. The most serious epidemic occurred here in Milwaukee, where by Cryptosporidium, which were transferred through the drinking water despite chlorination, more than 400,000 People fell ill and more than 100 people died.

Diseases caused by cryptosporidia lead to violent diarrhea, which in many cases, especially in the weak immune system of those affected, can lead to death.

In Germany, too, the Federal Environment Agency suspects a potential contamination of drinking water by such parasites and therefore recommends the treatment of drinking water in waterworks, whose water is often conspicuous by increased turbidity values, with appropriate technologies for separating the parasites from the water by means of steric processes, ie the finest filters like a high quality ultrafiltration. However, as this technology is currently prescribed in the USA, Canada, England and other countries, but not in Germany for drinking water sterilization by regulations, such treatment only happens in the rarest of cases.


Investigations by the Bavarian State Office for Food Safety and Health show that in approx. 14% of all multi – family dwellings, 9% of all single – family dwellings and 27% of all schools and 9% of all kindergartens, in hospitals, nursing homes, hotels and other public institutions, the limits for Legionella at the sampling points are well above the limits of the Drinking Water Ordinance. It is estimated that there are 30,000 cases of legionellosis in Germany every year.

Legionella pass through the cold water in the piping systems and multiply there, especially in the hot water networks of buildings. Inhaling the germs in the shower may increase the risk of infection with Legionella, which can cause severe pneumonia.

Legionella have been fought with high temperatures in the networks (even very inadequate), in this case, the temperature of the water must be above 60 ° C in all line sections. Calcification, biofilm and amoebae in the networks, as well as technical conditions of the pipeline network, however, prevent effective action of the temperature on the Legionella.

Modern, energy-efficient water heaters such as geothermal or solar are usually not able to increase the hot water to high enough temperatures to ensure an effective Legionella disinfection.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa either enter the house connection line in a house installation system or are introduced during work on the installation or during the new installation by contaminated components or tools and work material. Dead pipes and stagnation in the house installation promote propagation. Particularly affected are cold water piping systems including their extraction points, in some cases also hot water piping systems.

Contamination of the pipeline network and the collection points can have serious consequences especially for high-risk patients. The risk patients include u.a. Cystic fibrosis and bronchial sufferers, transplant recipients or patients who had severe surgery. There is a high risk in ventilated patients in intensive care units. Furthermore, pseudomonads are considered causative agents of severe skin infections in burn patients.

In the US, 1,400 people die each year of pneumonia caused by Pseudomonas transmitted by water.

In addition, it is expected that the spread of Pseudomonas in groundwater will increase in future as a result of climate-induced warming of groundwater.

Pharmaceutical residues

In Germany, about 3,000 different active pharmaceutical ingredients are administered annually in more than 9,000 preparations with a volume of 30,000 tonnes. The amount of veterinary medicinal products used is largely unknown. At least one third of the medicinal products for human use are disposed of unconsumed.

In a representative survey, 16% of the population said they would not use tablets that they did not use. Liquid medicines are flushed away by more than 40% of the population in the toilet. As a reason, it was often stated that the bottles should be rinsed for recycling old glass.

After ingestion, up to 95% of the medicines are excreted mainly in the urine and enter the surface waters with the wastewater via the treatment plants. More than 100 of them, of which 80 are regularly detectable. Part of it penetrates into the groundwater. 16 active substances have also been analyzed in drinking water.

The highest concentrations of drug residues, including antibiotics, are found in wastewater treatment effluents. There, they are several times larger than in the rivers that receive the purified wastewater. The pollution here corresponds approximately to that of plant protection products (pesticides). There is also the danger that antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the hospital waste will get into the water cycle. It will become even more dangerous if more and more biotechnologically developed drugs are added in the future.

The statement made by Tamara Grummt, a toxicologist from the Federal Environment Agency, reveals this: “The toxicological ignorance currently prevails for these new environmental pollutants”.

In Lake Constance, the drug concentrations in the shallow water area are at a comparable level as in its tributaries. In the shallower, deeper water layers of the lake, fewer substances were detected in significantly lower concentrations than in the shallow water zone (www.lubw.baden-wuerttemberg.de).

As the first active ingredient, clofibric acid was analyzed in waters. It has been found more often in rivers at concentrations between 30 and 220 ng / l (Stan, H.J. et al., 1994). In Baden-Württemberg, in the years 2000 and 2001, 25 active pharmaceutical ingredients were regularly detected in different rivers. It is noticeable that the concentrations in the Rhine and in the Danube are lower than in smaller rivers. In Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate psychoactive drugs have been detected in different rivers. The concentrations in the Rhine, in the Mosel and Lahn were often below the detection limit than in the small southern Hessian rivers Wickerbach, Landgraben, Eschbach, Schwarzbach, Erlenbach, Bieber and Rodau (Hummel, D. et al., 2006). Such analyzes can also draw conclusions about the consumption of illegal drugs in individual river basins.

The groundwaters are (still) predominantly free of drug residues. They can be identified where they are in contact with waste water leading streams. In investigations in Baden-Württemberg residues were found in one third of the groundwater samples (Sacher, F. et al., 2002), in Hesse in 38% of the samples traces, at 30% noticeable residues (Berthold, G. et al., 1998), attributed to the aquifers the property of a “long-term chemical memory”. An example of this is the detection of barbiturates in 2006 in groundwater in the area of ​​influence of the Elbe tributary basin. These tranquilizers were in use in the 1950s and 1960s.

Drug residues have been detected in drinking water where it is obtained from bank filtrate or groundwater contaminated with sewage. The measured concentrations are usually in the one- or two-digit nanogram range. In the assessment, it should be taken into account that the prescribed health-related orientation value for these substances in drinking water is 100 ng / l. The analytical results of substances with the same effect are to be added together.

Hormones in drinking water

Recently, so-called endocrine disrupters have found great public interest, which may interfere with the system of hormones or where such an effect is suspected. Endocrine disrupters are substances that either directly induce effects on intrinsic secretory glands or affect glandular activity at the site of action.

Since the 1960s, when concerns about the dangers of pesticides used in agriculture had been raised, no other topic on the toxicity of substances received so much attention as the reports published in the early 1990s that hormone-active substances are present in the environment the health – and in particular the reproductive ability – of humans and animals could affect.

In particular, the fact that these so-called endocrine occur in numerous daily used products and get directly or through the wastewater into the waters, is worrying.

Natural estrogens

With the urine of humans and animals, natural estrogens such as 17β-oestradiol and oestrone enter the waters. Thus, e.g. pregnant mares 100 mg per day. In women, the daily estrogen excretion is between 25 μg and 30 mg. Oestradiol is used in women with menopause medication at 2 to 8 mg / d. In the course of German treatment plants up to 21 ng / l 17β-estradiol (Kalbfus 1998) and up to 76 ng / l estrone (Wegener et al., 1999) were detected, in Bavarian surface waters up to 5.5 ng / l estradiol (Bayerischer Landtag 2001) and up to 5 ng / l estrone, in drinking water in Bavaria up to 0.3 ng / l estradiol and up to 1 ng / l estrone (Kalbfus 1998).

Artificial estrogens

Synthetic estrogens such as e.g. 17 α-Ethinyl estradiol (annual production in Germany: 60 kg) and mestranol from contraceptives (average 0.05 mg per tablet) and hormone treatments are excreted in the urine in a modified form, but in the sewage treatment plants partially split back into the active compounds.
Artificial estrogens occur more frequently and in higher concentrations in sewage treatment plants than natural estrogens: 17α-ethinyl estradiol up to 62 ng / l, mestranol up to 20 ng / l. In surface waters, ethinyl estradiol was detected at a maximum concentration of 3 ng / l, mestranol up to 28 ng / l (Fent 2000). In drinking water, ethinyl estradiol was measured in Bavaria at up to 2 ng / l (Kalbfus 1998).

Pesticides in drinking water

The Bavarian State Office for Food Safety and Health (LGL) was commissioned by the health authorities in 2009 to investigate 301 samples of pesticides, which are usually taken from a risk-oriented perspective. 26 samples were from single water supplies and 275 samples from central water supplies. The investigations included not only the up to 90 active ingredients but also their known metabolites. As in previous years, LGL atrazine (71%) and its degradation product desethylatrazine (78%) were the most prevalent, followed by desethylsimazine (45%), propazine (40%), desethylterbuthylazine (38%), simazine (25%) , Terbuthylazine (19%), 2,6-dichlorobenzamide (15%) and ethidimuron (15%). In contrast to the other triazines, which were well below the limit of 0.1 μg / l of the Drinking Water Ordinance (highest value: 0.04 μg / l), the LGL for atrazine was negative in 34% of the samples (maximum 0.37 μg / l). l) and for desethylatrazine in 52% of the samples (maximum 0.60 μg / l) limit exceedings.

Results like these come from examinations that are requested by local public health authorities in cases of suspected limit violations, so they are certainly not nationwide transmittable nationwide. Nonetheless, the result shows that even today forbidden pesticides such as atrazine still appear in groundwater.

Evaluations by the Federal Environmental Agency show that pesticides have been detected in nearly 30% of all water supplies in Germany.


According to studies by the WHO, plasticizers (phthalates) can be detected in rainwater, river water as well as in groundwater. In bottled water phthalates occur less from the bottles themselves, but essentially from the seals in caps in the water. Often, phthalates also enter the bottled water during the processing, for example, when the water passes through plastic hoses.

So far, it is assumed that the main burden path of the population is via food. It has also become clear recently that there is another relevant source of human stress. These are capsule shells of medicinal products in which phthalates (plasticizers) may be used as authorized adjuncts. Thus, e.g. Dibutyl phthalate up to a few mg / kg contained in the capsule shells. In addition, there are also many supplements on the market, which may also contain phthalates. So far, there are no reliable data in the scientific literature.

Some phthalic acid esters show in animal experiments in feeding experiments in particular effects on the organs liver, kidney and testes (testes) and a reduced body weight. In rodents, various effects such as liver changes, peroxisome proliferation, decreased cholesterol synthesis and reduced glycogen content were observed. In various rodent studies, effects on the developing fetus in terms of a lower birth weight, a reduced number of offspring and various malformations could be observed. After oral administration of plasticizers, testicular regressions could be detected in rats and mice, with effects depending on the dose and age of the animals at the time of exposure (juvenile animals are more sensitive). Long-term studies have also shown an increase in the incidence of liver tumors in DEHP feeding studies in rats and mice.


Well-founded information is very important if we want to decide how we live, what impact we have on ourselves and the environment. We have made every effort to provide you with important and good information, using only information from renowned universities, institutes, offices and media.

As you certainly understand, we have no control over the content of the linked sites and therefore can not accept responsibility for their accuracy or safety.

Hormone-like substances in drinking water

  • Chemlin Dokumentenlinks im Internet
  • Organische Spurenstoffe in der aquatischen Umwelt, Prof. Dr. Metzger, Uni Stuttgart (ISW)
  • Factsheet Hormonaktive Chemikalien, Bundesamt für Gesundheit der Schweiz

Pathogens in drinking water

  • „Auswirkungen des Klimawandels auf die Wasserversorgung“, Dr. P. Schindler, Bayerisches Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Gesundheit
  • „Probenahme von Wasser in mikrobiulogischer Hinsicht“, Dr. P. Schindler, Bayerisches Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Gesundheit

Viruses in drinking water

  • „Viren im Trinkwasser“, Prof. Dr. med. K. Botzenhardt
  • „Parasiten und Viren“ Sturm, Ball, Rohmann, TZW Karlsruhe

Parasites in drinking water

  • Empfehlung zur Vermeidung der Kontamination des Trinkwassers mit Parasiten, Umweltbundesamt
  • Wenn der Wasserhahn zur Krankheitsfalle wird
  • „Parasiten und Viren“ Sturm, Ball, Rohmann, TZW Karlsruhe

Legionella in drinking water

  • „Probenahme von Wasser in mikrobiulogischer Hinsicht“, Dr. P. Schindler, Bayerisches Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Gesundheit
  • „Kleines Legionellen-Briever“, Arbeitskreis Trinkwasserinstallation und Hygiene, Prof. Dr. Exner et al.
  • „Thermische Desinfektion – werden alle Legionellen erfasst?“, Prof Dr. Kramer et al.

Pseudomonads in drinking water

  • „Pseudomonaden im Trinkwasser von Hausinstallationen öffentlicher Gebäude“, Arbeitskreis Trinkwasserinstallation und Hygiene, Prof. Dr. Exner et al.
  • „Probenahme von Wasser in mikrobiulogischer Hinsicht“, Dr. P. Schindler, Bayerisches Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Gesundheit

Pharmaceutical residues

  • „Antibiotika und Antibiotika-Resistenzen in Lebensmitteln und Umwelt“, Dr. Stroh, Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt
  • Hormonaktive Substanzen und Arzneimittel, Bund Naturschutz BUND

Pesticides in drinking water

  • „Längst verbotene Pestizide belasten Trinkwasser“, Die Welt Online
  • „Pflanzenschutzmittelfunde im Trinkwasser“, Umweltbundesamt, 2005

Hormones in drinking water

  • „Hormone aus der Plastikflasche“, ARD, Tagesschau.de
  • „Hormone im Mineralwasser“, ZDF Info

Plasticizer in food

  • „Der Weichmacher-Skandal“, Frank Wittig, SWR
  • „Umweltmedizinische Hintergrundinformationen zu Phtalaten“, Bayerisches Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Gesundheit
  • „Phtalate (Weichmacher) in Nahrungsergänzungsmitteln und Arzneimitteln“, Bayerisches Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Gesundheit
  • „Pthalate in Drinking Water“, World Health Organization
  • „Bottled Water – Pure Drink or Pure Hype“, Natural Ressource Defence Council

Life Cycle Assessment of bottled and tap water

  • „Vergleich der Umweltbelastungen von Hahnenwasser und Mineralwasser“, Schweizer Verband des Gas- und Wasserfaches