If you are looking into Legionella and whether or not it may be an issue in your water system, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the variety of factors that can contribute to the growth of this potentially lethal bacteria. It is important to consider how your water system is operating, and which water treatment options you have selected, and who is monitoring when evaluating whether Legionella will be a risk in your situation.
What Is Legionella?
Legionella is a dangerous bacteria present in freshwater that can cause a specific type of pneumonia in humans if we breathe in droplets contaminated with microbes. While this disease does not spread from person to person, except in extremely rare circumstances, someone exposed to Legionella can develop symptoms such as diarrhea, shortness of breath, headaches, fever, and coughs. These can be indicative of Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever, which can be fatal if not treated quickly.
How It Gets Into Water Systems
Legionella can proliferate in water systems due to a variety of factors, and understanding which of these contributors may influence your own water system can shed light on your risk of Legionella contamination. You must have someone review your particular design, and provide a water safety plan including, review of water treatment to see if Legionella may be a risk for you.
Many situations can promote the growth of Legionella, such as dead legs in your system, stagnant areas of your system, where water flow is rare or nonexistent. This stagnant water is a breeding ground for the Legionella bacteria, and it can contribute to the growth of a biofilm. Biofilms are sticky substances created by bacteria inside water supply piping, and the film can shield the Legionella from heat and disinfectants.
In addition to these possible routes for Legionella growth, you must consider a multitude of additional possibilities. A skilled Legionella systems expert can comprehensively review your system and offer solutions to ensure that you are following local regulations for Legionella control and keeping everyone who enters your building safe.
Water Temperature Fluctuations
The temperature that you keep your water at can have a significant impact on the ability of Legionella to thrive in your system. The Legionella bacteria grow most readily in lukewarm water, typically between 77 degrees and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water system experiences temperature fluctuations that bring your water into this range, you could be providing an opportunity for Legionella to gain a foothold.
Water Main Breaks
When a water main breaks, contaminants are able to enter the water system. This can introduce Legionella bacteria into the water supply, even if there was previously no evidence of it in the system. When flushing and treating the water following the repair of a water main break, it is important to address the potential of Legionella contamination. An experienced legionella expert can give you personalized guidance on how to remove Legionella from your system after a water main break.
Wrong Level Of Disinfectant
One common method for the prevention of Legionella growth is by treating the water with disinfectants. Most often, this is achieved through the use of chlorine. However, incorrectly measuring the chlorine in light of the amount of water it is meant to disinfect can lead to an insufficient level of chlorination that will not be successful in destroying all of the Legionella in a system. This is why creating a strategy for disinfection and following it carefully is critical, so that the measurement and application of disinfectants is sure to completely kill the Legionella bacteria.
Construction On Your Building
Much like water main breaks, construction on a building can introduce Legionella into a system that previously had no issues with it. Because construction involves adding to or modifying existing piping or structures, the risk of outside contamination is always present. If you have previously not considered treatment for Legionella because your water system was found to be free of the bacteria, new construction could introduce Legionella into your water, where it would grow unabated without treatment.
Speak To A Legionella Compliance Expert
As you review your own water system and any treatment plans that you have been relying on, it can be difficult if not impossible to grasp the full scope of your system’s vulnerabilities and where Legionella may be proliferating. This is why working with a skilled Legionella expert is critical. Tower Water would be happy to visit your location and perform a detailed review of your water system, offering guidance for properly resolving any compromised areas that leave your facility vulnerable to Legionella.
This will ensure that you remain in line with government mandated regulations on Legionella while keeping visitors to your building safe. It will also contribute to a more robust environment, as you do your part to prevent the spread of Legionella due to contaminated water from your facility. Reach out to schedule a consultation and get your potential Legionella issue under control.