Whether you operate a large industrial facility that relies on cooling towers and condensers or you rely on a water heater for your day-to-day tasks, you may have already heard that Legionella bacteria could be an issue in your water system. Legionella is one of the more dangerous bacteria found in water facilities but it is also preventable.
If you want to properly safeguard your water facilities against Legionella, it is best to spend a few minutes learning more about what Legionella is, why it is dangerous, and what are the most common methods for preventing and eradicating it.
What Is Legionella Bacteria, And Why Is It Dangerous?
Legionella is a gram negative bacteria that thrives in any system that is not composed of salt water. Since fresh water is used for so many daily applications, Legionella can appear almost anywhere if proper care is not taken. The primary issue with Legionella is not its appearance or smell—it is the fact that Legionella can cause severe or even fatal illness in humans.
This is why proper water system management must include measures for preventing the growth of Legionella bacteria. Any system that discharges water into the air via water droplets(evaporation, mist, steam or other fumes) could introduce contaminants that travel for miles while exposing people to illness.
Legionella infections are known for their flu-like symptoms. Legionella can also develop into more serious illnesses like Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of pneumonia that can be deadly if left untreated
Preventing Legionella By Managing Water Temperatures
The good news is that Legionella can be controlled effectively using strategic water system management like temperature control. The bacteria thrives at temperatures between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, that temperature range is also one of the most common and comfortable temperature ranges for the average water source.
Moving the temperature out of this range can discourage the growth of Legionella bacteria, but you must do so carefully. Temperatures as low as 120 degrees Fahrenheit are hot enough to burn human skin in a matter of seconds, and Legionella bacteria won’t even begin to die until temperatures climb above 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can, however, occasionally hot flush your system if you do so with care. Remember to factor in the environment, as bright sun and hot climates can increase the temperature of water running through cooling towers.
Regularly Clean And Disinfect Your Equipment
Disinfecting your water system equipment is a crucial aspect of preventing Legionella growth. This includes not only regular water treatment that is customized to your system’s specific needs but also direct, physical cleaning, such as scrubbing cooling tower basins and draining water heaters. Depending on the type of machinery you use, disinfection is best done multiple times per year. An expert can help you understand which cleaning processes are right for your system.
Conduct Consistent Testing With A Reputable Legionella Bacteria Lab
Identifying Legionella in your water system is not something you want to leave to guesswork. Be sure that you use water sampling to test regularly for bacteria—and that you send that sample to a lab that is experienced in testing for Legionella.
A reputable lab cantell you exactly which strain(s) of Legionella is present in your water system, the number of bacteria colonies forming in your system, and the best method for eradicating Legionella from your water system. This is necessary information that will enable you to customize and refine your bacteria removal strategy with minimal guesswork.
Minimize Stagnation And Points Of Growth
Stagnant water gives Legionella a huge advantage. When water does not move, bacteria has time to develop colonies and avoid or become resistant to water treatment chemicals. Similarly, rust, corrosion and scaling provide bacteria with safe havens where it can remain undetected.
By removing these other water system concerns, you are taking preventative actions that will mitigate the risk of Legionella bacterial growth. Likewise, fixing your system’s dead legs and correcting your water’s pH imbalances will also help prevent the corrosion that can contribute to bacterial colonization.
Trust The Experts To Assist With Legionella Bacteria Prevention
Whether you’re concerned about Legionella exposure and want to get ahead of the curve or you’re already experiencing a Legionella outbreak, be sure to trust the experts. The professionals at Tower Water would be happy to help you understand your options and strengthen your system’s resistance to Legionella bacteria. Reach out to learn more or schedule an appointment to get started with a customized plan.