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No, COVID-19 is not in your tap water

Experts said drinking water goes through a multi-barrier treatment approach that is effective at removing and killing viruses.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — You may have seen the posts on social media, claiming to show tap water turning a COVID-19 test positive.

The trend led to several viewers asking us if there's COVID in the water.

We want to confirm right away that it is not true. Our Verify team takes the claim to the experts to explain why this is false.

THE QUESTION: 

Keisha Houston, a viewer, wrote to us asking: “Is COVID inside of tap water? There has been posts on [social media] of positive at home covid test[s] from tap water." 

THE SOURCES:

  • The City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities Division of Water
  • Zuzana Bohrerova, the associate director of the Ohio Water Resources Center and a research specialist at Civil Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at Ohio State University
  • Abbott Laboratories

THE ANSWER:

False. COVID-19 is not in tap water.

Here's what we found:

"I can say quite for sure that it cannot be in tap water especially in Ohio where we treat the wastewater and also the drinking water,” said Bohrerova.

She explained drinking water goes through stringent treatment that kills pathogens.

“I really cannot imagine that it could end up in your tap water."

For more context on that treatment process, below is the full statement from the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities, Division of Water:

“‘Is COVID in our tap water?’ This was a question first raised when the pandemic started. Regardless of what is found in the source water, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requires that drinking water treatment is designed to kill viruses - including variants that cause COVID-19. 

Our multi-barrier treatment approach is very effective at removing and killing viruses. We have several effective steps in the treatment process to physically remove viruses (coagulation, softening, and filtration) followed by chlorine disinfection, which is very effective at killing viruses.”

We also reached to Abbott Laboratories.

A full statement from a spokesman is below:

“BinaxNOW is for use with samples collected with a nasal swab inserted into a person’s nostrils.  BinaxNOW is not for use with water or any other foods or liquids.  When used as intended, it is a highly accurate test that is helping to detect COVID-19 and can significantly improve efforts to control transmission. Spreading misinformation with deliberate misuse of a medical product during a pandemic is misleading, irresponsible and dangerous to public health. Other liquids have chemical properties which can cause a chemical reaction on the test strip, resulting in misleading or inaccurate results.  Failure to follow the instructions for the test procedure and interpretation of test results may adversely affect test performance and produce misleading or invalid results.”

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