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Common aquatic bacteria like Legionella pneumophila are able to colonize man-made water systems and poorly maintained systems or those that are seldom used. These water systems often also provide the means for aerosolizing the organism. Construction materials and compounds leached from the by-products of other organisms can be utilized by aquatic bacteria and thus aid their growth. Keeping water systems clean and well serviced, keeping hot water at or above 50°C and cold water below 20°C and additionally in cooling towers maintaining the required levels of biocide, will reduce or prevent the growth of legionella. To be certain that the control measures are successful, microbiological and chemical monitoring should be done. The results of this monitoring, as well as the maintenance work undertaken, should be kept in a log so that failures in treatment can be quickly detected and remedial action taken before any risk of infection arises. Adhering to these simple guidelines will not only significantly reduce the risk of infection, but will also provide systems that are more efficient and cheaper to run.
Legionella, growth temperature, hot water, maintenance, aerozolisation, control
Microbiology Manager, Thames Water Utilities,