New technology to reduce the risk of Legionella
News this week from science journal Nature claims that Legionella bacteria is adapting to man-made environments. A team led by Julian Parkhill at the Wellcome Trust has sequenced the five types of the bacteria that cause almost half of all cases of Legionnaires’ disease in northwest Europe and their analysis also suggests that “people infected with the bacterium are helping to disseminate it.” Given the ability of bacteria to evolve in this way, it’s no surprise that we humans are developing ever more advanced ways of tackling the bug.
When it comes to Legionella control there are a number of new technological developments on the market which are designed to reduce risk and simplify the management of control systems:
- For landlords with properties which are spread out geographically and have regular void periods (such as student accommodation), there are devices which will detect remotely when there is low or absent water flow and then automatically flush the system
- UV technology can also be used in special showerheads where the water passes through a chamber and ultraviolet light penetrates the water to kill bacteria before it is released into the shower. Since scale build-up in showers can be a food source for bacteria, and showers provide the perfect delivery system for infected aerosol spray, this can be an excellent tool for high risk situations
- Remote temperature monitoring is another area of tech development, where devices are attached to pipework to give regular temperature readings and send an automated alert when there is a problem. Water temperature is one of the key ways to control the risk of Legionella, making this system particularly attractive for large properties or housing developments
- Mobile apps are also proving to be a very useful tool in Legionella control, particularly for portfolio landlords and letting agents with multiple properties to manage and monitor. We’ve been field testing CAT-SI, a new compliance app aimed at just such a market, and have already seen the benefits of its user-friendly interface and comprehensive tracking and reporting functions. The ability to gather information quickly and simply and then produce a full risk assessment report and recommendations makes it easy and cost-effective to achieve Legionella control compliance.
And it’s not just in Legionella prevention that there are technical advances. This week has also seen news of an innovative biophotonic light sensor being developed by European researchers at POSEIDON which claims to be able to detect Legionella bacteria in less than an hour. Since current detection procedures rely upon a 10-day process of lab cultivation and analysis, this new laser device represents a major step-change in Legionella testing.
While the majority of domestic rental properties represent a low risk for Legionella and arguably have little need of expensive hi tech devices, many landlords and letting agents – particularly those with a large portfolio of properties to manage – would be advised to explore the opportunities presented by advances in technology. As Legionella bacteria evolves to become more robust in the face of existing control measures, so we need to stay one step ahead to keep tenants safe and healthy.
For more information on the CAT-SI app, due to launch this winter, please get in touch or visit www.cat-si.com.