The Importance of Legionella Testing and Water Management Plans
Legionella, a type of bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ Disease, poses a serious threat to public health. This potentially fatal form of pneumonia is primarily transmitted through the inhalation of aerosolized water containing the bacteria. To mitigate the risk of Legionella contamination, it is crucial to implement robust water management plans and conduct regular Legionella testing.
Legionella bacteria thrives in warmer water environments, making domestic hot water systems an ideal breeding ground. While larger buildings such as hospitals and hotels are considered higher risk due to their complex water systems, it’s important to note that Legionella can also be present in homes. Stagnant water in infrequently used areas, such as guest bathrooms or unused rooms, can create an environment conducive to bacterial growth.
The greatest danger arises when individuals inhale aerosolized water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. Those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, individuals with chronic lung disease, or those undergoing chemotherapy, are particularly susceptible to contracting Legionnaires’ Disease. The severity of the disease can range from mild respiratory symptoms to severe pneumonia, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
To effectively manage the risk of Legionella contamination, it is crucial to develop a comprehensive Legionella water management plan. One widely recognized industry standard for creating these plans is ASHRAE 188. Following this standard ensures that all necessary aspects, including risk assessments, monitoring protocols, corrective actions, and communication strategies, are addressed.
At Saniservice, we recommend creating a Legionella water management plan before proceeding with Legionella testing. Our Chief Science Officer, Ian Cull, who is an ASHRAE member and has extensive experience in Legionella management, can guide you through the development of a customized plan that meets the specific needs of your facility.
While developing a water management plan is essential, many clients also opt for Legionella testing as a quick risk assessment measure. There are two common methods for Legionella testing: culture and qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction).
Culture testing, considered the gold standard, involves cultivating the bacteria from water samples and counting live bacteria that can cause disease. This method provides accurate results but takes longer to obtain, typically requiring several days.
On the other hand, qPCR testing allows for next-day results by amplifying specific DNA sequences of the bacteria. However, it cannot differentiate between live and dead bacteria. Consequently, even if your water treatment system effectively kills the bacteria, the test will still count the dead bacteria in the total, potentially skewing the results.
To ensure the most accurate and timely results, a combination of both culture and qPCR testing is often recommended. This approach provides a comprehensive assessment of the bacterial load in the water system and helps identify potential risks.
Contact us at 04 3215505 to discuss your specific needs and requirements regarding Legionella testing. Our team will work with you to develop a customized plan and provide pricing options that suit your facility.
By prioritizing Legionella testing and implementing effective water management plans, you can safeguard the health and well-being of occupants in your building or facility. Taking proactive measures to prevent Legionella contamination not only ensures compliance with health and safety regulations but also provides peace of mind knowing that you are actively protecting people from the risks of Legionnaires’ Disease.