Re: Deionized water blues

From:Lee & Peggy Wenk

Who says it is d. water, at this point?

Has it been checked for conductivity and silicates lately? Has anyone
checked to see if there are bacteria at the source - right out of the

We had an episode (lasted almost a year) where our d. water had 1000+
colonies of bacteria (>1000 was the highest that microbiology could report.
There could have been 1001 or 1 million, for all we know.)

It was a trio of errors that caused our problems.
1. Maintenance had switched all their "fix-it" lists from paper lists to
computer, but they forgot to put into the computer to change the filter on
the deionizer every three months. As a result, it had been 1 1/2 years since
it had been changed.

2. About a month previous to the spike in bacteria in our d. water, Detroit
city water had added a chemical to the water, to stop the leeching of lead
out of the pipes in the older homes. Unfortunately, one of the "side
effects" of this chemical was the increase of bacteria in the water. Which
our d. water filters should have been able to handle, except that they
hadn't been changed (see #1)

3. D. water lines are supposed to be on a continuous loop. From the
deionizer to the lab, and any unused d. water goes back to the deionizer.
That way, the unused d. water gets re-deionized. It's easier to keep
deionizing the d. water, than to continuous have to deionize regular tap
water. About 6 months before the spike, they added a wing onto pathology,
where my school and EM are, and the construction people "dead-ended" the d.
water line at my school, instead of reconnecting it in a loop to the main
line. So all the bugs from #1 and #2 above were able to leisurely swim
around our "stagnant" d. water. These bacteria eventually "backed up" into
the main d. water line in the lab, and then were able to contaminate all the
d. water lines in the entire hospital. At that point, all lines were
contaminated, including the deionizer.

They tried to switch to the backup deionizer, but it hadn't been used to 20
years, so was rusted, which made a mess of the mineral content of the d.
water. Of course, they didn't tell anyone they were going to do this, and
did it on a Friday afternoon, so Chemistry had to change filters on their
analyzers every 30 minutes for the entire weekend. With no idea as to what
was causing the problem.

The labs, maintenance, and outside consultants finally solved the bacteria
problem by putting a UV light on the line, near the deionizer. And by making
a connecting loop of the d. water line of my school. Eventually, they also
purchased a new deionizer.

So, I would suggest contacting whoever runs the deionizer, to make certain
that the filters ARE being changed, and to test the water right out of the

Good luck.

Peggy A. Wenk, HTL(ASCP)SLS
William Beaumont Hospital
Royal Oak, MI 48073

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 8:19 AM
Subject: Deionized water blues

> 1) Does anyone know of a supplier of filters for deionized water systems
in the United States OTHER THAN the U. S. Filter Corporation? That company
seems unable to deliver the right filters, in a timely manner, to the right
address! I need the filters that attach to the spigot.
> 2) Which begs the question - How do those Gram negative organisms get to
live in deionized water? There are no nutrients for them to live on, except
each other, and some of those wind up in my filters! Not much of a life for
a bacteria!
> Thanks in advance
> (Curious) Mike Titford
> USA Pathology
> Mobile AL USA

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