What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
People may become infected when they breathe in tiny water droplets (aerosols) or droplet nuclei (particles left after the water has evaporated) contaminated with elevated concentrations of Legionella bacteria.
Legionella bacteria grow best between temperatures of 20°C–45°C with optimum growth temperature being 35°C–40°C. High temperatures (minimum 60°C) kill the bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease can affect anyone. People with immunosuppressed systems, the elderly or people suffering from respiratory problems may be particularly vulnerable.
Where are the bacteria found?
Legionella bacteria are found in low numbers in natural aquatic environments, for instance, lakes, rivers and ground water. As a result, it is virtually impossible to prevent Legionella bacteria entering man-made water systems. In low numbers, the bacteria are generally considered harmless. With the correct conditions, for example, warm water, the presence of microorganisms and nutrients in the water or materials such as rust, the bacteria can grow and multiply to high levels, which increase the risk of exposure. The bacteria tend to grow in biofilms (slime).
Biofilms are likely to form on surfaces where there is low water flow or water is allowed to stagnate. Low or no water flow and stagnation can occur during temporary water system closures.
Control of Legionella Bacteria During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
Because of the current situation with COVID-19 many places of work such as hotels, leisure facilities, offices, dental clinics and hairdressers have had to temporarily close with only essential businesses staying open.
Water systems, which have been shut down, have had low water usage, or modified control regimes during the pandemic, may result in an increased risk of Legionella bacteria being present. Such systems may have been out of use for a significant time and in most cases cannot simply be used straight away. The system may require recommissioning as if new (that is thorough flushing, cleaning and disinfection and/or controlled flushing of outlets such as taps, showers and toilets) prior to return to use and reopening of the building. Risk assessment review and water testing should also be considered as part of the recommissioning plan.
(Source Covid19 Legionella Information and Advice Health & Safety Authority)
The following are all sources or potential sources of Legionella bacteria:
- Water systems incorporating a cooling tower
- Water systems incorporating an evaporative condenser
- Hot and cold water systems
- Spa pools
- Natural thermal springs and their distribution systems
- Respiratory and other therapy equipment
- Dental chair unit waterlines
- Water-cooled machine tools
- Vehicle washes
- Potting compost/soil in warmer climates
- Other plants and systems containing water which is likely to exceed 20°C,
- or have an electrical component that can transfer heat and cause localised heating, and which may release a spray or aerosol (i.e. a spray of droplets and/or droplet nuclei) during operation or when being maintained.
(source: Recognised and potential sources of Legionella infection www.hspc.ie)
What we do
- We work closely with our clients and offer a preliminary Risk Assessment for Legionella Bacteria.
- We provide Water Tank and Pipework Sterilisation and Cleaning.
- We work with an INAB accredited laboratory for the analysis of water samples
- We offer Legionella Control and prevention through routine checks, inspections, and system cleaning.
- Legionella Risk Assessment provided by skilled and experienced engineers with the co-operation of and support of onsite individuals.