A substantial proportion of drinking water consumers have resorted to alternatives to their municipal water supply as their source of drinking water. Although health risk perceptions associated with drinking water are ranked low in comparison with other risks, they are subject to influence from the media as a primary information source. Although there may not be a strong connection between odour detection and health risk, consumers who make such a connection cannot be dismissed as irrational. There are substantial grounds to support the possibility that unfamiliar drinking water odours might reveal the presence of substances which pose a potential health risk. Failure to provide credible evidence as to the actual causes of odours will leave water utilities in an indefensible position on associated health risk.

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