Useful Tips from Legionella Experts
For duty holders, employers, landlords and those who are in control of premises, managing the risks that legionella poses can be extremely daunting and overwhelming. From legionella tests and remedial works to risk assessments and water safety regulations, there can be a lot of information to process and try to understand how it relates to you.
Here we share some helpful tips, advice and information from legionella experts to give you the confidence to better manage your legionella control.
Understand What Legionella Is
Legionella is a bacterium which can be commonly found in natural water sources like rivers, lakes and reservoirs. It can also occur in manmade water systems and if allowed to increase to dangerous levels, human exposure can result in the development of legionnaires disease which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.
Be Aware Of How Legionella Is Spread
Legionella is a waterborne bacterium that infects the lungs when droplets of contaminated water are inhaled, which can develop into legionnaires disease. It cannot be spread from person to person and outbreaks usually occur when multiple infected people have been exposed to the same contaminated water system.
Know Where Legionella Poses The Greatest Risk
Any water system can pose a threat for legionella under the right environmental conditions, but some of the water systems that are most at risk of legionella include;
- Hot and cold water systems
- Spa pools
- Cooling towers
- Evaporative condensers
- Fountains and water features
- Dry / wet cooling systems
- Air humidifiers
- Eye sprays
- Emergency showers
- Air washers
Be Informed About The Conditions That Lead To Legionella
Legionella thrives in stagnant, warm water and so any system will pose a risk for legionella if;
- The water temperatures sit between 20°C to 45°C
- Water is stored or recirculated
- There are nutrients presents such as algae or sediment
- Water can become aerosolised (turned into droplets) and disperse into the environment
In water systems where the above conditions are present, and the management and maintenance of the system is inadequate, legionella has the perfect opportunity to multiply rapidly and contaminate the water.
Understand Who Is Most At Risk
Nobody is safe from infection when it comes to legionnaires disease, however, some people are higher risk;
- Those who are over 45 years of age
- Smokers and heavy drinkers
- People suffering from illnesses such as chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease
- Those with an impaired immune system
Know The Law Around Legionella
It is vital that you fully understand the responsibilities associated with legionella as the control of legionella in water systems is regulated by a number of health and safety laws. Managing legionella is a legal obligation and failing to ensure the health and safety of those who use the property can result in severe penalties, fines and even prosecution.
Carry Out A Legionella Risk Assessment
When it comes to legionella, control and prevention are always going to be better than cure and a legionella risk assessment can get you ahead of the game.
The risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person who has the skills, knowledge and experience to do so, as well as the understanding of legionella, the water systems and associated equipment. They must also be able to make recommendations for any remedial works, improvements or changes that need to be made to reduce the risk of legionella.
Because the stakes are so high when it comes to legionella, a lot of people choose to use the services of a professional to carry out their risk assessments for them which provides peace of mind that their property is safe and compliant.