Headed back to the office? Make sure your building has flushed out its water.
People returning to offices and other workplaces that haven’t been occupied for long periods of time while employees worked remotely should be wary about what comes out of the faucets in those buildings. Metals and microorganisms that may cause harm are likely to have built up in the plumbing of places that have been vacant, warns Fulton Schools Associate Professor Treavor Boyer, an environmental engineer. Water that stagnates in a building can stagnate and corrode the plumbing, causing metals such copper and lead — which can be particularly harmful — to leach out of the system. Boyer has done research during the COVID-19 pandemic lockouts in which he examined the long-term effects on water in schools that had been closed for months. Boyer says such studies could provide ideas for better protecting buildings from facing water contamination problems when they sit empty.