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The microbiological quality of sachet water sold in Awka metropolis was evaluated. Water is a basic nutrient of the human body and is critical to human life. The samples were collected from different locations and the samples were analysed microbiologically first by homogenizing the samples under asceptic conditions to obtain a composite sample for the analysis. The Pour and spread plate technique was carried out using the following microbiological media (Nutrient agar, Eosin Methyl Blue agar, and sabouraud’s dextrose agar) to isolate pathogenic micro-organism. Isolates were further identified and characteristised through various biochemical tests such as Gram Staining, Coagulase, Motility, Methyl red, Indole test, Oxidase test, Catalase test Citrate utilization test and sugar fermentation then confirmed using the Bergey’s manual of determinative Bacteriology. The bacteria isolates were then identified to be Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus spp, Streptococcus spp and klebsiellaspp and fungiisolates were then identified to be Aspergillusspp, Fusariumspp. The Presence of this microbes in sachet water has been traced to inadequate treatment and poor hygiene practices during production, improper handling, purification procedures and processing which has significantly affected the quality of sachet water, making it unfit for human consumption.
Water is one of the most important natural resources known on earth and for sustenance of human life. Water is one of the most essential commodities for the survival of all lives. It is abundant in nature and occupies about 70% of the earth and the only common substance that exists in nature in all three physical states of matter: solid liquid and gas. (Ojoet al., 2005) It is the most universally used solvent and common route of transmission of diseases. It is a basic human need and essential constituent of life. Accessibility and availability of fresh water is a key to sustainable development and essential element in the promotion of good health and food production (Adenkunleet al., 2004). However, it has been estimated that about 1.2 billion individuals worldwide do not have access to portable water (Third word water forum on water, 2003). In many developing countries, water availability has become a critical and urgent problem and it is a matter of great concern to families and communities that depends on non-public water supply system (Okonkoet al., 2008). The increasing human population has exerted an enormous pressure on the provision of safe drinking water in developing countries (Umehet al., 2003).Water of good quality is important to human physiology and man’s continued existence depends very much on its availability. Before water can be described as portable, it has to comply with certain physical, chemical and microbiological standards, which are designed to ensure that the water is potable and safe for drinking. Portable water is defined as water that is free from contaminants, such as disease causing microorganisms and harmful chemical substances. The importance of potable water supply in the socio-economic life of the public cannot be over emphasized. Often, source and portability of water supply reflects on the health conditions of communities. Water meant for consumption should be free from pollution, acceptable and safe. Indeed the quality of water sources should not exceed the maximum limits specified in the water quality guidelines. Sachet drinking water was introduced into the Nigerian markets as a less expensive means of accessing drinking water than bottled water (Ogundipe, 2008). The most reliable source of drinking water is bottled water which is of good bacteriological quality (Obiriet al., 2003). Bottled water is defined as water that is intended for human consumption and this is sealed in bottles or other container with no added ingredients except that it may contain safe and suitable fluorides. Although bottled water is safe for drinking, it is expensive and only individuals who have a good financial status can afford these products. As an alternative, small scale industries have come up with sachet water popularly known as ‘PURE WATER’. This product is 50cl of water in clean nylon square-sachets at which have been electrically heated and sealed at both ends. This sachet water is widely patronized by low socio-economic class (Narasimlian and Himabindu, 2010).
The sale of sachet water is one of the local interventions in Nigeria that is unreliable (Egwari and Aboba, 2002) and it has increased tremendously. Most sachet water manufacturer in Nigeria obtain their raw water mostly from local municipal piped water or well water; hence adherence to production and analytical standards are doubtful as most of the factories are observed to lack appropriate technology for achieving this (Oyedejiet al., 2010). Surveillance carried out by the Nigeria based National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) between 2004 and 2005 revealed that some producers of packaged water indulge in bad practices such as packaging of untreated water, production under unhygienic conditions, illegal production of unregistered water in unapproved premises, use of non-food grade sachets and release of packaged water for distribution and sale without date marking (Edema and Atayese, 2010). These malpractices compelled the agency to formulate guidelines for the production of wholesome packaged water.
However, despite the policies formulated by public and international agencies to address this problem, the situation in Nigeria seems degenerating and therefore demands increased attention. In order to solve the problem effectively, there is a need to fully assess the extent of the problem and its causes. Drinking water regulations require that portable water for human consumption be free from human-disease-causing bacteria and specific indicator bacteria that are indicative of the presence of these pathogens (Lisle, 1999). Potential health problems may exist due to the microbial content of sachet water since water is one of the vehicles for the transmission of pathogenic organisms (Brock, 1991; Prescott et al., 2005). However, the type of organisms present in sachet water depends on a number of factors such as the type of soil over which the water flows, contamination by animal sewage and agricultural waste (Hunter, 1993). Water-borne diseases are associated with improper provision of water and sanitary services and the effect of these diseases vary in severity from stomach upsets to even death. Young children are mostly the victims especially from developing countries. The ensuring of good quality drinking water is a basic factor in guaranteeing public health, the protection of the environment and sustainable development (Ranjiniet al., 2010).
This work is aimed at assessing the Microbiological quality of Sachet water sold in Awka Metropolis.The Specific objectives of this work include:
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