Any individual who operates a cooling tower, spa, hot tub, decorative fountain, or other feature that regularly uses water should consider regular testing the water for bacteria. One of the primary bacteria that can cause issues in these types of devices is Legionella. Sampling can indicate whether a water source is contaminated with this potentially dangerous organism, as well as guide the strategy for how to remove it and prevent it from recurring.
What Is Legionella?
Legionella is a gram-negative bacteria that thrives in freshwater, especially water that is tepid in temperature. Any water between 70 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit may be at risk of Legionella, but certain types of equipment are more prone to colonization than others. Among these, cooling towers are the most frequent culprits, although hot tubs are also high risk.
The Legionella bacteria can cause illness in humans if it is transmitted from a contaminated water source to a person’s mucous membranes, most commonly in the eyes and nose. When water containing Legionella is aerosolized or turned to vapor, which is common in building equipment like cooling towers and hot tubs that create vapor or mist, it can travel through the air and come into contact with humans.
Upon entering the human body, Legionella bacteria can cause a number of diseases, the most common of which is Pontiac fever. Characterized by chills, body aches, fever, headaches, and nausea, it presents in much the same way as the seasonal flu and is approximately as dangerous. Most individuals will recover from Pontiac fever on their own with rest and hydration. Legionella can also cause Legionnaires’ disease, a much more severe illness that results in severe lung inflammation that can be deadly soon after onset. As many as one in ten people who contract Legionnaires’ disease die from it.
This is why Legionella sampling is important. Remaining vigilant about water quality can keep people safe and healthy.
What Does Legionella Sampling Mean?
Legionella sampling is the process of testing the water for Legionella bacteria to determine the scope of an outbreak, as well as what type of Legionella bacteria are currently problematic in the water system. Sampling is typically performed by a professional in order to confirm or exclude the origin of an outbreak so that treatment can be more effective and localized. It can also indicate whether Legionella are only thriving in a particular area of the water system or whether the entire system is compromised. By analyzing the specific type of bacteria responsible, sampling can guide a highly effective treatment strategy and evaluate its efficacy.
Why Should I Sample for Legionella?
Sampling for Legionella is an important part of keeping any water feature on your property safe. While you may purchase a testing kit to sample for Legionella on your own, the results that you achieve from working with an experienced Legionella and water treatment expert will be higher in quality and more comprehensive. Once you are aware of the specific type of Legionella that has proliferated in your water system, you can choose a highly effective combination of chemical or other water treatment agents that will target that specific variety for the best chance of success. If Legionella is not entirely eradicated during water treatment, it will grow again quickly and become a recurring issue.
Legionella sampling is best left to the professionals because it requires safety precautions in order to avoid potentially becoming ill should Legionella exist in the water system. While cooling towers, hot tubs, and other equipment that produces vapor or mist are most commonly associated with Legionella, even an act as simple as flushing a toilet or turning on a tap can still create water droplets in the air. If legionella is suspected, special face respirators will be used when around this equipment or untreated vapor. However, Legionella prevention experts will come fully equipped to safely conduct sampling so that you do not need to undergo the process yourself.
Work with the Legionella Sampling Experts for the Best Results
If you have reason to believe that your water system contains Legionella or you would like to be sure that Legionella is not a problem in your building, your safest choice is to contact a legionella expert with experience in Legionella sampling. The expert technicians at Tower Water would be happy to examine your water system and provide detailed sampling that can be sent to a reliable lab for analysis. This ensures that your water treatment plan is comprehensive and effective, keeping anyone who spends time on or near your property safe and healthy.