Airplane Water Quality Is Even Worse Than Previously Believed

anyaberkut/iStock via Getty Images
anyaberkut/iStock via Getty Images

While air travel is convenient, there's never any promise it will be particularly clean. Security checkpoint bins and airplane tray tables are notorious for harboring germs. In addition to being careful of what you touch, you need to be cautious about what you drink.

Air travelers have been warned in the past about the questionable water quality of major airlines. Owing to inconsistent water transport issues, storage methods, and lackadaisical monitoring, several studies and investigations—including a 2004 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—have found bacterial contamination and even insect eggs lurking in liquid served to passengers in the form of coffee and tea.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t appear to be getting any better. A new study on the quality of airline tap water conducted by the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center found E. coli, coliform bacteria, and other unpleasantries across 11 commercial and 12 regional carriers.

The study ranked airlines according to water quality tests, and whether airlines were forthcoming in disclosing how they handle water transportation and storage for in-flight plumbing, using a scale of 1 to 5. While some airlines, like Alaska and Allegiant, scored well at 3.3, others (including JetBlue, Spirit, Delta, and United) ranked poorly in terms of delivering healthy, clean water, which is often sourced from local municipalities.

Low scores also indicated a lack of transparency about the airlines' water monitoring process. Moving the water from its source through hoses and tanks can create opportunities for the water to become contaminated.

How can questionable water be served? While the EPA introduced an Aircraft Drinking Water Rule in 2011 that mandated quarterly cleanings of airplane holding tanks and bacteria tests, Condé Nast Traveler reports that the agency does little to enforce it, typically opting not to issue fines to airlines found to be in violation of the terms.

The study’s authors recommend people avoid drinking tap water, coffee, or tea while on airplanes and should instead opt for bottled water. Because the stored water is also used for lavatory sinks, it’s possible you might introduce germs to your hands even after “cleaning” them. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

Stephen King's Maine Home Will Become a Museum and Writer's Retreat

Russ Quinlan, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Russ Quinlan, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Early in his career, author Stephen King (It, The Shining, The Outsider) embraced his public persona of being a spooky writer of the macabre. He purchased a 19th-century Victorian mansion in Bangor, Maine in 1980 for $135,000 and spent some Halloweens outside passing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Now, King’s residence is set to become something of a Bangor landmark. As Rolling Stone reports, King and his wife Tabitha requested that their private home at 47 West Broadway be rezoned as a nonprofit center, which the Bangor City Council granted this week. The plan is to turn the home into a museum devoted to King’s work as well as a writer’s retreat.

King isn’t evicting himself, exactly. While he remains the owner, he and his family have spent less time at the residence over the years, instead residing in Florida or Oxford County, Maine.

Shortly after King purchased the home, he wrote and read aloud an essay addressing why he chose Bangor and his earliest impressions of 47 West Broadway. “I think it disapproved of us at first,” he wrote. “The parlor seemed cold in a way that had little to do with temperature. The cat would not go into that room; the kids avoided it. My oldest son was convinced there were ghosts in the turret towers …” A few months in, King recalled, his family began to settle in.

The Bangor home has morphed into a tourist attraction of sorts over time, with fans of King’s making a pilgrimage to the spot to take photos or idle around its ornate iron gate. Soon they’ll be able to peek inside, though the museum will be by appointment only. It’s not yet known when the home will open to visitors or how writers can apply to stay there.

[h/t Rolling Stone]

These 25 Cities Have the Worst Drivers in America

Believe_In_Me/iStock via Getty Images
Believe_In_Me/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re driving in a new city, you might find yourself prone to more fits of road rage than usual, probably because you haven’t yet adapted to the tacit differences in road etiquette. Perhaps you find Pittsburgh drivers to be more mercurial and aggressive than you’re used to, or maybe drivers are so laid-back in Little Rock that you feel like you’ll never reach your destination.

Though everyone is entitled to their own opinions about which cities have the most untrained, absent-minded hooligans on the highway, insurance quote comparison site QuoteWizard broke down a ton of data to determine a ranking of which cities—statistically speaking—actually have the worst drivers. To do it, the team analyzed millions of insurance quotes and added up the numbers of accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, and citations (which include running red lights, texting while driving, etc.) in 75 cities across the country.

Based on those metrics, they determined that the absolute worst driving city is Portland, Oregon, which boasts the highest number of speeding tickets in the nation. The runner-up is Boise, Idaho, which saw an increasing number of DUIs drive the city up 25 spots from last year’s list (where it ranked 27th).

A staggering seven California cities ranked in the top 25, including Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. And South Carolina proved to be small but mighty when it comes to driving indiscretions: Greenville, Charleston, and Columbia all made the list.

While this list seems to skew toward the West Coast, many of the top 25 best driving cities are in the Midwest and the South. Detroit, Michigan, takes home the trophy for best driving city, followed by Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois; and Miami, Florida.

See below for the full list of worst driving cities, and find out the factors contribute to bad driving here. You can view QuoteWizard's full list of best and worst cities for drivers here.

  1. Portland, Oregon

  1. Boise, Idaho

  1. Virginia Beach, Virginia

  1. Columbus, Ohio

  1. Sacramento, California

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah

  1. Cleveland, Ohio

  1. Denver, Colorado

  1. San Francisco, California

  1. Richmond, Virginia

  1. Madison, Wisconsin

  1. Fresno, California

  1. Bakersfield, California

  1. Seattle, Washington

  1. Omaha, Nebraska

  1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  1. Dayton, Ohio

  1. Greenville, South Carolina

  1. Charleston, South Carolina

  1. Columbia, South Carolina

  1. Rochester, New York

  1. San Diego, California

  1. Los Angeles, California

  1. Washington, DC

  1. Riverside, California

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