1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Demand for bottled water has consistently increased in recent years, making bottled water the fastest growing segment of the non-alcoholic beverage market worldwide. However, massive consumption of water in disposable bottles has been connected to increased pollution and landfill waste. The EPA (2013) reported that each year Americans throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars; notably, only 26% of plastic bottles were recycled. The environmental cost associated with bottled water has led to a social push to adopt reusable water bottles. Reusable bottles are more environmentally friendly and economical because consumers can repeatedly refill them. This ability to refill and reuse water bottles comes with an implied mandate to clean the bottles on a regular basis. However, observation of consumer behaviours related to reusable water bottles suggests that users are regularly refilling bottles without making a corresponding effort at cleaning them. Moreover, the design of reusable water bottles may pose a barrier to their cleanliness. Bottle options are numerous and range from portable plastic or collapsible bottles to multi-purpose containers that can handle either hot or cold beverages. Some bottles come with built-in carbon filters that are replaceable, but not cleanable, while others include straws and areas that are difficult to clean properly. Some bottles have wide mouths that make it easy to clean the interior, while others have an opening that is only an inch or so in diameter, making it challenging to clean the inside. Users may think that it is sufficient to simply put the bottle into the dishwasher for cleaning, but not all reusable water bottles are dishwasher safe, and/or the diameter of the bottle mouth may not permit water and detergent to enter with sufficient force to coat the interior surface. Improperly cleaned water bottles may present a potential contamination risk and thus be considered a risk for food borne illness, particularly to those at higher risk such as immune compromised people, older adults, and young children. Microorganisms will normally grow in water and on surfaces in contact with water as bio films. The availability of nutrients and lack of residual disinfectant are some of the principal determinants of microbial growth in drinking water. According to the FDA Food Code (2013), water is considered a food. Reusable bottles are therefore food-contact surfaces requiring proper cleaning and sanitizing. Unfortunately, consumers may not be aware of the potential hazards related to water bottles; thus, there is a possibility for complacency with regard to cleaning behaviors. It is recognized that water can be a source of disease outbreaks. Despite worldwide efforts and the modern technology employed for production of safe drinking water, transmission of waterborne diseases is still a matter of major concern. Some common food borne organisms associated with water include Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Vibrio cholerae, to name a few. These can lead to severe illnesses and death. Clearly, there are health implications associated with unclean water consumption. Reusable water bottles are growing in popularity, but consumers may not perceive the importance of cleaning water bottles as other food-contact surfaces must be cleaned, which can result in careless behaviours with regard to their cleaning. The difficulties associated with cleaning the bottles adequately, as well as the variability in designs and materials, make it easy to see the potential food safety hazard. Previous studies have conducted microbiological evaluation of bottled water, as well as cleaning protocols of infant feeding bottles. Oliphant, Ryan, & Chu (2012) studied water quality in the personal water bottles of 75 elementary students and stated that the use of personal water bottles for students in elementary classrooms is not recommended because of the significant microbial contamination levels of the water in the bottles. However, limited information has been published on the cleanliness of reusable water bottles and consumer behaviors related to reusable water bottles. Therefore, the purpose of this study was two-fold: first, to measure contamination levels of water bottles that are in use, and second, to understand how contamination levels are affected by bottle usage and cleaning behaviours, by collecting survey data from the bottle owners. Three methods were used to assess water bottle contamination. First was the use of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence on the exterior surface of water bottles. ATP tests provide evidence on the level of general cleanliness by measuring organic materials, with results reported in terms of RLUs (relative light units). Results are obtained rapidly but are considered only a generalized assessment that cannot provide information on the identity of organisms present in a sample. Because of this, the second method quantified microbial contamination through a heterotrophic plate count (HPC) from the bottles’ interior. “Heterotrophic bacteria” include all bacteria that consume organic nutrients for growth. These bacteria are universally present in all types of water, food, soil, vegetation, and air. The heterotrophic plate count is a means of assessing the concentration of these bacteria in foods and water. Enumeration of total heterotrophic counts is commonly used as an indicator of overall microbiological quality, and results are reported as colony forming units per milliliter (CFU/mL). Finally, coliform testing was used to assess more potentially risky coliform bacterial contamination. Coliform organisms have long been recognized as a suitable microbial indicator of drinking-water quality, largely because they are easy to detect and enumerate in water. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct the effect of reusable bottle on potable water storage and consumption.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Reusable water bottles are growing in popularity, but consumers regularly refill bottles without a corresponding effort at cleaning them. If the difficulties associated with various bottle designs and materials are added in, it is clear that improperly cleaned water bottles may present a potential contamination risk and thus be a risk for food borne illness. Chemicals used for making some types of bottles have been shown to be detrimental to the health of humans. It is important to dispose of water that has been stored in PET bottles beyond the expiration date because harmful chemicals may leach from the plastic. Bottle manufacturing relies on fossil fuels and natural resources. Some manufacturing processes release toxic chemicals into the air and water supply that can adversely affect nervous systems, blood, kidneys, immune systems, and can cause cancer and birth defects. Most disposable water bottles are made from petroleum derived polyethylene terephthalate (PET). While PET is considered less toxic than many other types of plastic, the Berkeley Ecology Center found that manufacturing PET generates toxic emissions in the form of nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide and benzene at levels 100 times higher than those created to make the same amount of glass.
1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the effect of reusable bottles on potable water storage and consumption. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the contamination levels of water bottles use in storing drinking water.
2. To examine the bottle usage and cleaning behaviours use by bottle owners.
3. To examine the effect of reusable bottles on potable water storage and consumption.
4. To examine the effect of different ways of storage (room temperature versus cold temperature) on bacterial growth in bottled water.
5. To examine the relationship between reusable bottles and water storage and consumption.
6. To examine the control measures used in reducing the bacteria level in using reusable bottles for storing of water.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the contamination level of water bottles use in storing drinking water?
2. What are the bottle usage and cleaning behaviours use by bottle owners?
3. What are the effects of reusable bottles on potable water storage and consumption?
4. What is the effect of different ways of storage (room temperature versus cold temperature) on bacterial growth in bottled water?
5. What is the relationship between reusable bottles and water storage and consumption?
6. What is the control measures used in reducing the bacteria level in using reusable bottles for storing of water?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: Reusability of plastic water bottles has no effect on consumer consumption.
H1: Reusability of plastic water bottles has an effect on consumer consumption.
H0: There is no relationship between reusable plastic bottles and potable water storage and consumption.
` H1: There is a significant relationship between reusable plastic bottles and potable water storage and consumption.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings would be significant to water manufacturers as well as the society at large. The result would also help individuals to understand the effects of certain processes and at the same time increase their understanding at the bacteria associated with using reusable bottles in storing water for consumptions. Similarly, the result of this research would help in increasing and understanding the awareness of the types of reusable bottles we have in Nigeria, as well as know the remedies to mitigate the health risk associated with using reusable bottles for storing water for consumption. However, this study would serve as insight to general public particularly for further study by researchers in this field.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the effect of reusable bottles on potable water storage and consumption, a case study of selected bottle water factories in Lagos State.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Reusable: To reuse something is to make use of it more than once, or for a subsequent time. Asking for a plastic bag at the grocery store might seem wasteful, but you can reuse that bag many times. Instead of throwing something away after using it once, ask yourself if there's any way you can reuse it.
Bottle: a rigid or semi-rigid container typically of glass or plastic having a comparatively narrow neck or mouth and usually no handle.
Water: the clear liquid that has no colour, taste, or smell, that falls from clouds as rain, that forms streams, lakes, and seas, and that is used for drinking, washing, etc. : an area of water (such as a lake, river, or ocean) waters : a specific area of water; especially : an area of seawater.
Consumption: The process in which the substance of a thing is completely destroyed, used up, or incorporated or transformed into something else.
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