INTERSTATE DRINKING WATER STANDARD.
Secretary McAdoo, of the Treasury Department, has notified the Public Health Service that his department has adopted the drinking water standard to be used in the enforcement of interstate quarantine regulations, recommended in a report made by a commission of fifteen, including chemists, bacteriologists and physicians, which was appointed in January, 1913, by the secretary. Because of limitations of national authority, this standard cannot be insisted upon in all places, but common carriers have been notified that in interstate traffic they must furnish water that does not fall below it to their passengers. While it is stated by the commission, in its report, that its recommendations are in no sense standards of purity, it fixes a limit of “permissable impurity,” which places upon railroads the responsibility of supplying water that is free from injurious effects upon the human body. The limits of impurity are fixed as follows: The total number of bacteria developing upon standard agar plates, incubated twenty-four hours at thirty-seven degrees centigrade, shall not exceed one hundred per cubic centimetre. Not more than one out of five portions of any sample examined shall show the presence of organisms of the bacillus coli group, in which the typhoid fever germ has its origin, and it is explained that these limits are as rigid as they can be made without on the one hand requiring absolute freedom from various forms of bacteria, many of which are harmless or, on the other hand, materially increasing the cumbersomeness of the examinations necessary to determine whether the requirements are complied with.