Objectionable odours and flavours in drinking water are a constant concern to consumers and public water suppliers. The organoleptic properties of drinking water can be naturally induced or man-made. In this paper characteristics and causes of odours and flavours are evaluated. Two methods for determining odour and flavour, in relation to the EC Directive 80/778, are described. In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Waterworks Testing and Research Institute (Kiwa) is responsible for the testing and certification of materials used in the production and distribution of drinking water. A study was undertaken to develop standards for odours and flavours in water under well defined conditions. Results of round robin tests in the period 1994 through 1997, demonstrated a considerable improvement in these methods. A valuable strategy is available for a successful localization of the causes of flavours and odours to protect consumers against health risks. Accordingly, these analytical techniques can give a complete view of impurities derived from distribution systems.

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