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A guaranteed way to tackle the risk of legionella in water systems

Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal infection, normally contracted by inhaling fine water droplets containing legionella pneumophila, causing a localised infection in the lungs.

Legionella protects itself from the body’s other natural defences by hiding within macrophages - white blood cells that normally attack invading bacteria. This allows it to grow quickly, with severe untreated infections causing pneumonia.

Most people do not develop Legionnaire’s disease, but around 12 per cent of identified cases are fatal. However, if identified quickly enough, Legionnaire’s disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics.

Like any organism, legionella needs food, warmth and somewhere to live, and industrial and commercial water systems can offer all of these. Any equipment producing a fine spray or aerosol adds an extra bonus – it allows the bacterium to travel.

It is a legal requirement for water system operators to keep them clean and demonstrate they have been treated with suitable disinfectants. This is usually required every six months, with an L8 certificate – referring to the HSE legionella control code of practice – issued by the cleaning contractor.

The employer is responsible for identifying and assessing the risk of exposure to

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