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SUMMER MAINTENANCE


A LOOMING LEGIONELLA THREAT


Building managers and owners need to be aware of the risks of Legionnaires’ disease and ensure the dangers of contamination within stagnant water can be minimised by accurate testing, so that buildings can be reopened safely, says IDEXX.


The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted countless offices, hotels, businesses, and facilities to close globally. Man- made water systems that had been used on a regular basis have suddenly become dormant.


It is in these purpose-built water systems, both non- potable and potable, where Legionella poses most risk, and infection occurs when people inhale contaminated air or aspirate contaminated water. Potable water sources include taps, showers, ice machines, and humidifiers; the non-potable source which poses the greatest risk is evaporative cooling systems.


There are over 60 species of Legionella, but the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control clinical culture data shows that the Legionella pneumophila strain of the bacterium causes 97% of all cases of Legionnaires’ disease.


46 | TOMORROW’S FM


As these buildings sit empty, the bacteria species is more likely to grow and spread in systems with stagnant or standing water, creating potential breeding grounds for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease in the process.


Ideal conditions for Legionella


contamination The connection between Legionella pneumophila contamination and water stagnation in building distribution systems is well-known. When buildings are used less frequently or shut down completely, water quality degradation becomes a silent but serious issue. Water age, lack of movement, and lack of residual disinfection can create an opportunity for waterborne microorganisms to flourish, compromising the quality of water transported to taps and ultimately putting public health at risk.


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