Health Hazards Associated with Water Fountains

Written by lishah smith
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Health Hazards Associated with Water Fountains
Become aware of the health hazards associated with water fountains. (sheets of water in the fountain image by Irina Kodentseva from

The primary function of outdoor water fountains is to provide a relaxing and serene addition to the landscape. Traditional and newer interactive water fountains pose potential health hazards when not properly maintained. Diseases from water contamination and injuries in these landscaping areas are the two primary types of health hazards associated with water fountains.

Mold Spore Contamination

Mold and mould spores thrive in moist or wet conditions. Improperly maintained outdoor fountains carry these spores in the fine mist of water spraying in and around the fountains. Additionally, wet areas bordering the fountain can harbour mould spores. Mold spores often cause adverse reactions and health hazards for people visiting these fountains. The United States Environmental Protection Agency urges all fountains (both indoor and outdoor) be properly maintained and cleaned to prevent mould spore contamination.

Electrical Hazards

The primary method for outdoor water fountain operation is via an electrical pump. Pumps must have an electrical energy source. Improper or malfunctioning outdoor water fountain pumps can cause electrocution hazards. It's imperative to install commercial and residential outdoor water fountains according to building electrical code specifications. Only licensed professionals should install these types of fountains.

Exposed electrical sockets and connections pose potential electrocution and tripping hazards. All areas to these parts of water fountain operation must be properly hidden, covered and kept out of the public's access to ensure the greatest safety.

Falling Injuries

Many fountains have a spray feature that results in water spraying into a designed splash area. Ideally, the splash area contains slip-resistant tiles or other materials. People can slip and fall in this splash area, adding to the health hazards possible from fountains. It's crucial for fountain owners to maintain and repair the splash area to reduce chances of potential injuries.

Cryptosporidium parvum Disease

According to Kenyon College and the Center for Disease Control, Cryptosporidium parvum is a parasite that thrives in water, particularly drinking water fountains. This pathogen is present in the water of many outdoor fountains. People who choose to bathe, swim or play in water fountains risk contracting this very contagious disease. Swallowing drinking fountain water poses an even higher risk for Cryptosporidium parvum disease.

According to the Center for Disease Control, rapidly recycled water filtration rates do not adequately filter and disinfect water to kill Cryptosporidium parvum parasites. Improperly maintained water fountain filtration systems and inadequate water treatment procedures sometimes allow the parasite to contaminate water for fountains. It is imperative that fountain operators insure correct water pump filter speeds and maintain proper levels of chemical additives for water purification.

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