As the weather turns chilly and it seems that there are infectious bugs everywhere, from Norovirus to the common cold, it’s worth remembering that other harmful bacteria – such as Legionella – could also be lurking in our homes, workplaces and even on the streets
Legionella is carried in water vapour, transported through the air in moisture molecules, and it’s all too easy to breathe it in unwittingly. We are surrounded by sources of water vapour in our daily lives, all of which are created as a result of manmade water systems. If such systems aren’t kept clean, it’s not difficult for Legionella to grow and then disperse in the fine mist which may not even be visible to the naked eye.
How about this for a dirty dozen of potential water vapour hazards in everyday life?
Whether in the home, workplace or leisure facilities, showers which are poorly maintained or fed by unsanitary water tanks present a high risk
When a tap is turned on, water vapour or splashing of fine spray occurs. If the water contains Legionella, it’s easy for the user to breathe in the mist.
3. Hot tubs and saunas
Thanks to the warm water temperature and creation of large amounts of steam and spray, hot tubs and saunas are a high risk.
4. Garden hose or sprinkler
Hosepipes, pressure washers and sprinklers can harbour all sorts of bacteria. If they’re left unused the germs can multiply and then when the water is switched on, the spray is full of nasties.
5. Drinking and teeth brushing
Choking while drinking a glass of water or from a drinking fountain can result in water being inhaled. If the water is contaminated with Legionella, this delivers it straight to the lungs.
6. Ornamental fountains and water features
Decorative water features and fountains are another source of spray and vapour which can be breathed in. The growth in popularity of public water features which people can walk through or play in increases the risk further.
7. Air conditioning
Air conditioning systems can quickly disperse Legionella bacteria via cooling towers. This could affect people using the building, or even just walking past it in the street.
8. Car windscreen washers
Cash windscreen washing systems have been known to harbour Legionella. If you wash your windscreen while driving with the window down or sunroof open, the occupants of the car can be affected.
9. Carwash facilities
Similarly, carwash facilities create a lot of spray and vapour which could be carrying Legionella bacteria, creating a danger for any carwash operatives and those nearby.
10. Misting displays
The trend of misting display cabinets in supermarket fresh food sections or in restaurants and hotels can be another source of Legionnaires’ disease if the water source isn’t kept clean and bacteria-free.
11. Swimming pools and water rides
Swimming pools and water rides bring large numbers of people into contact with water spray and vapour so can present a risk of infection.
The use of humidifiers for adding moisture to a room’s environment is another excellent delivery system for Legionella if the water isn’t clean or the equipment not kept in good order.