AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Coffee Clues

In reading this article, I find one more reason why coffee, caffeine in particular, is awesome. Not only does it taste good, but it is a helpful hint in determining when and where sewage systems need to be repaired. Almost 3 % of coffee and other caffeinated drinks enter the sewage system through urine. Thus, high amounts of caffeine in urban areas shows that urine is present in the different bodies of water and is thus a sign of contamination by fecal coliform bacteria.

Gross right? Sebastien Sauve explains that if caffeine is found in sewage, that means that it came from human waste. However, he continues that caffeine is an important marker of sanitary contamination, or contamination by waste, because it helps to determine problems with multiple sewer systems.

Sauve and his colleagues discovered caffeine as compound that helps to detect fecal coliform bacteria in sewage through research on the Island of Montreal in Canada They tested for both caffeine and carbamazepine   and found that caffeine is useful in detecting coliform bacteria because it is consumed by so many people, in comparison to the compound carbamazepine, an anti seizure medication that isn’t as popular a drug as caffeine. They found that if caffeine appeared in the water at levels of 400 nanograms per liter, levels of fecal coliform bacteria were always above 200 colon-forming per 100 mL of water, a level that almost prevents swimming or bathing in the US.

Despite this highly useful information, caffeine isn’t always the best marker because water could still be contaminated without the presence of caffeine to indicate so, yet caffeine can be used to figure out when repairs to sewage systems are necessary.

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  1. nicleus2

    I found this article very interesting and at the same time disgusting. It is almost inevitable how contaminated our bodies of water are from sewage systems. I found a small web page that elaborates on the important testing of fecal coliform bacteria in water. Check it out:

  2. carlybio12

    Did you know that coffee can also be helpful in making an argument more persuasive?! At the University of Queensland it was discovered that a person is more likely to agree with an argument after having consumed caffeine. After performing a study in which some of the participants were given caffeine and others were not. it was found that “the level of ‘systematic processing of the message’ was found to be increased by caffeine as shown by increased agreement with the arguments, greater message-related thinking and better argument recall.” Interesting, right?

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