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Legionella in the times of Covid-19

The global pandemic, Covid-19 has shaken the world to the core due to its rapid spread and devastating effects on human health. After being in lockdown for quite some, the world is slowly moving towards normalcy and many building, that was shut down during the lockdown, are being opened up. In such a scenario, it is essential to check the water systems in the building before being put back to use. The stagnant water is one of the great sources of breeding Legionella bacteria and if consumed, the water transports the bacteria to the human body causing severe issues in the body. If you are a property owner or manager, you are responsible for carrying Legionella risk assessment to ensure that the water in your building is safe to be consumed. Due to lockdown, it becomes difficult for owners to keep regular checks on the water safety system, however, now that most businesses are opening up, there is no excuse for owners to arrange Legionella risk assessment & Training.

What is Legionella Disease?

Legionella is a severe form of Pneumonia resulting in high inflammation of the lungs that can result in critical illness and death. Legionella is not caught by drinking contaminated water but attacks only if inhaled. Once you inhale the contaminated water, the bacteria reached the lungs through the throat and cause inflammation. People with lower immunity and with underlying lungs diseases are at a greater risk as compared to those who are in good health and enjoy a strong immunity.

Sources of Legionella

Legionella bacteria is born in water system and can be found in natural resources like rivers, ponds, lakes, etc. it can be found in man-made water system designed in homes, commercial buildings, gardens such as

  • Drinking water systems
  • Storage Tanks
  • Water Pipes
  • Showers and Taps
  • Humidifiers
  • fire fighting sprinklers and hoses
  • garden hosepipes
  • lawn sprinklers

The threat of Legionella during the pandemic

The closure of several buildings during the pandemic unintentionally provided an ideal situation for legionella bacteria to breed and grow in untreated water systems. Since the buildings closed down for an indefinite period, even some offices are still closed to date, it became difficult for owners to maintain regular checks on the water system giving the bacteria a safe environment to grow. Moreover, the heating and cooling system has remained unmanned for a long-time causing water to remain stagnant in storage tanks or pipes for a long period. The growth of legionella depends largely on the water temperature. It tends to thrive in water temperatures ranging between 20 and 50˚C. The water temperature above 50˚C or 60˚C can potentially kill the bacteria. However, the cold water below 20˚C can make the bacteria go into hibernation instead of killing it. Therefore, It is the responsibility of the building owner to arrange Legionella risk assessment & Training before opening up the building for use to keep their occupants safe.