Eye infections in luxury condo linked to dirty water
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Eye infections in luxury condo linked to dirty water

City Hall orders building management to ensure proper chlorination or face legal action

The managers of a luxury condominium in Bangkok are in hot water after inadequate chlorination of tap water resulted in eye infections in as many as 200 residents.

The problem first emerged nearly four weeks ago and still has not been fully resolved, with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) vowing to take legal action if it isn’t fixed soon.

Health officials from Chatuchak district first learned of the problem on June 14, when reports emerged that 90 residents of the condominium had experienced eye inflammation, BMA spokesman Ekwaranyu Amrapan said on Tuesday. 

The name of the condominium in the Lat Phrao area was withheld but it was reported that units there can cost 10 million baht.

Staff from the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority conducted a test and found no residual free chlorine in the water tanks of the condominium building. That was substandard for tap water, said Mr Ekwaranyu.

Residual free chlorine is the low amount of chlorine remaining in water after its initial application. It constitutes an important safeguard against the risk of subsequent microbial contamination after water has been treated.

Officials advised the management of the condominium to ensure a standard level of residual free chlorine in the water. They also banned the use of its swimming pool.

On June 21 district officials ordered further improvements made and on the following day the condominium management started to apply chlorine to disinfect the water tanks.

However, on June 25, an examination found acanthamoeba — a parasite that causes eye infections — in tap water from underground tanks and five condominiums. On that day, the management cleaned the tanks and applied chlorine.

On June 26, BMA health officials were told that the number of eye inflammation cases in the building had reached 200.

On July 1 and 2, residents filed complaints with the Ministry of Public Health and the BMA.

On July 3 officials from the BMA and the ministry found that three water tanks at the building had not been cleaned or undergone chlorine shock, and that did not comply with the safety standard for water in high-rise buildings. Officials did not find any residual free chlorine in the tap water.

On July 4 the Chatuchak district office sent a letter to recommend water improvements at the building.

Mr Ekwaranyu said officials would revisit the building on Thursday. Management will face legal action from the BMA if it fails to keep water quality up to safety standards, he said.

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