Legionnaires disease is a potentially deadly form of pneumonia and one of a group of diseases caused by the Legionella bacterium. Collectively these diseases are known as legionellosis.
Anyone is at risk of infection from Legionnaires disease and the risk increases with age. The following groups of people, however, are particularly susceptible:
* people aged 45 and over
* people who smoke and drink heavily
* those who suffer from a chronic respiratory condition
* those who suffer from diabetes
* those who suffer from lung, heart or kidney disease
* anyone whose immune system is impaired
Although the bacterium that causes Legionella pneumophila is commonly found in sources of natural water such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs, it is rarely found in great numbers. More perilously, it can also be observed in built-for-purpose water systems such as spa pools, cooling towers, hot and cold water systems or evaporative condensers. Indeed, wherever conditions are favourable, the bacteria can thrive and the risks of Legionnaires’ disease are increased.
Where does the bacteria come from?
The Legionella bacteria are surprisingly widespread in all systems of natural water, such as ponds and pools, lakes, rivers and reservoirs. In order for people to become infected, however, conditions must be conducive, and this is not often the case.
Bacteria levels can multiply and reach dangerous levels in purpose-built water systems where the temperature is between 20 and 45° Celsius. Below 20°C and the bacteria are dormant, above 60 the cannot survive. Stagnant water also favours growth, so systems must be kept in frequent use and be flushed regularly for the risk of Legionnaires’ disease to be averted.
The most common water systems where these conditions proliferate are:
* hot and cold water systems
* cooling towers
* spa pools
* evaporative condensers
These can be either in a professional, industrial or domestic environment.
How do people contract Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires disease is contracted when people inhale small particles or droplets of water that contain the bacteria and are suspended in the air.
There is a greater risk of Legionnaires disease:
* when the temperature of the water in the system is between 20 and 45 degrees celsius
* when conditions for the creation and dispersal of breathable water droplets are favourable, such as in cooling towers and domestic water systems
* when water is stored and re-circulated
* when there are deposits that support or encourage growth of the bacteria by providing a nutrients – such as scale, sludge, rust and organic matter
Blue Fish Water Management specialises in carrying out risk assessments to the water systems in your company or on your premises, ensuring the health and safety of your workers, tenants and patrons, as well as your business reputation. Each assessment identifies and assesses sources of risk and gives advice on how to manage those risks.
Have your water checked. It’s your legal duty.
To book a risk assessment, give Blue Fish Water Management a call today.