Legionella is a waterborne pathogen that causes a pneumonia-like illness. It mostly grows in places where water flows, like pipelines. Analyzing the risk factors related to Legionella and mitigation of them is a primary requirement for several businesses like landlords, restaurants, and hospitals. Legionella risk assessment can be defined as the tools and technologies utilized to identify and understand Legionella-associated risk factors, and strategies formulated to control the growth of the pathogen and spread of disease. The common factors leading to Legionella related risks are:
Dead legs resulting from a redundant piping system
In the piping system, there might be certain outlets that are rarely used after a certain period. These unused outlets are called dead legs. These redundant pipes mainly have stagnant water, which is considered to be the perfect breeding ground for Legionella. One such example of a dead leg is when a sink or faucet is removed, and the pipes connected to them are closed and left non-functional. To manage such a scenario, you should study the entire piping system and make a plan for removing these outlets.
Infected tanks designed for storing cold water
Legionella also multiplies profusely in cold water tanks that are not disinfected with chlorine. Therefore, you must get your cold storage tanks and the associated piping system cleaned at regular intervals. The general procedure of cleaning includes the use of reduced biocides, contact time involved at every step, and the technologies used in the treatment process.
Warm water temperature supports Legionella growth
Like most mesophilic microbes, Legionella also prefers a warm temperature. The pathogen shows exponential growth in lukewarm temperatures in the range of 25ᴼC to 42ᴼC. To prevent Legionella growth in the water system, the temperature of the hot water must be maintained above 50ᴼC. Additionally, Legionella shows reduced growth at temperatures lower than its optimal range. Therefore, the temperature of the cold water system should be kept below 20ᴼC to prevent Legionella growth. Such tight control over the temperature of the water is necessary for controlling Legionella growth, and therefore, installing a temperature helps to keep a check on the pathogen.
Along with Salmonella (related to typhoid), pneumonia, Legionella is also an important contributor to severe waterborne disease. This pathogen has proven to be harmful to humans, and therefore, you must have a proper Legionella risk assessment conducted at your place. It will help if you take responsibility for your family’s health against such an alarming pathogen.