Why is Legionella Testing important now?
The current Coronavirus pandemic has meant that many commercial premises have had to close over the past few weeks. Water systems left underused or unused for a short period can cause harm to the health of your staff, visitors and customers. This is because legionella can build up in unused water pipes. Without performing legionella testing, businesses will not be able to determine their water supply’s safety. All water for human consumption and hygiene should be tested to ensure that the water is safe and free of contaminants before reopening.
All commercial businesses such as hotels, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, shops, crèches, gyms, GAA clubs & recreational clubs where the public use shower facilities and/or using water for hygiene purposes, such as in hotel and restaurant kitchens, should routinely perform E-coli and Legionella testing to demonstrate that bacteria counts are acceptable.
How Does Legionella Testing Work?
Legionella testing involves collecting a water sample from a suspected source of the bacteria and then analyzing it in a laboratory to determine if it contains the Legionella bacteria.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia, contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets from a contaminated source that has allowed the organism to grow and spread The most common form of contamination occurs in hot and cold water such as showerheads, whirlpools and hydrotherapy baths. Anyone can develop Legionnaires’ disease, but the elderly and those immunocompromised, including chronic respiratory or kidney disease, are at more risk.
What Causes Legionnaires ’ Disease?
Legionella is a bacterium responsible for causing Legionnaire’s Disease and many other respiratory problems. Legionella thrives in warm, stagnant water where temperatures are between 20-45°C and nutrients are available. Legionella typically exists at low concentrations in groundwater, lakes, and streams but can grow rapidly in water systems where temperatures are between 20-45°, including swimming pools, domestic water systems and showers, and whirlpool spas.
How Can Businesses Prevent Legionella Growth?
Water temperature control is the primary method used to control the risk of Legionella. Water systems should routinely be cleaned and temperatures recorded. Water should be operated at temperatures that prevent Legionella growth. For instance, hot water storage cylinders should store water at 60°C or higher, as Legionella do not survive above 60°C. Coldwater should be stored and distributed below 20°C, as Legionella is dormant at a temperature below 20°C. Stagnant water favours Legionella growth. Outlets, including showerheads and taps, should be flushed out at least weekly with regular cleaning and de-scaling of showerheads, spas and Jacuzzi.