Legionella bacteria was in the news quite frequently last year, see the recent BBC articles here on their website so we’d thought we’d take a quick look at the bacteria itself, why it’s dangerous and how you can protect against it…

What is Legionella bacteria?

Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring bacteria that occur water courses such as rivers and ponds. Since legionella are widespread in the environment, they may contaminate and grow in other water systems such as cooling towers and hot and cold water services.

Legionella thrives at temperatures between 20-45°C if the conditions are right, e.g.: if a supply of nutrients is present such as rust, sludge, scale, algae and other bacteria.

What problem does it cause?

The bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease which is a potentially fatal pneumonia. Other similar (but usually less serious) conditions include Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.

How do you become infected?

Infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.

How can you protect against it?

Cooling towers/systems are often treated using biocides and other chemicals such as Chlorine Dioxide. However practically on smaller scales this is not possible and handling chemicals is not advisable unless you are a professional. Other Treatment strategies are available such as ultra violet (UV) irradiation, copper/silver ionisation and ozone exist and will provide point source control and neutralisation of the bacteria.

In hot and cold water systems legionella have traditionally been controlled by storing hot water above 60°C and distributing it at above 50°C – and keeping cold water below 20°C if possible.

How can we help at Dales Water?

Ultra violet purifiers are known to be an effective water treatment way of controlling and neutralising many types of bacteria and we would always recommend that these are installed on Private water supply systems as a precautionary measure.

We will look after your Ultra Violet Purifier as well in perpetuity meaning that it can give you years of service. Ultra violet purifiers can handle small to large flows of water and if clients are concerned we would be happy to discuss their particular requirements to find the right product for them.

Please contact us for further information.

Source: Legionnaires’ disease: A guide for employers, HSE.

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