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What are the most important tips for effective control of legionella?

Legionella bacteria thrive in bodies of water. Exposure to this type of bacteria increases the likelihood of developing Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia that is potentially fatal. Legionella monitoring and control of water systems are key to reducing the risk of inhaling the bacteria that cause the disease.

Here are a few simple ways to keep a home or property’s water systems free of the pneumonia-causing bacteria.

1. Maintain the correct water temperature

The conditions must be right in order for the bacteria to survive and multiply. In terms of temperature, the bacteria thrive in a temperature range between 20° and 45°C. Water systems should be able to maintain water temperatures either lower than 20°C or higher than 50°C to prevent the bacteria population from growing.  This is especially necessary in cases where the water is left unused for several days .

2. Monitoring staff

A Responsible Person should be appointed to take control of legionella management. This individual must have had the right type and amount of training in Legionella control.  One critical monitoring task  is checking every month that water temperature is correct at the sentinel outlets. These are the nearest and farthest outlets from the hot and cold water storage tanks and the mains water inlet. The Responsible Person must ensure that suitable records are kept.

3. Flush showers and taps

Avoid installing showers in homes or properties where the fixture will be rarely used. Shower heads are prime grounds for harbouring the bacteria. To prevent water from becoming stagnant and the bacteria from multiplying, the shower head (just like taps) must be used or flushed at least once a week. All heads and their respective hoses should be dismantled, de-scaled and cleaned at least once every three months. Other than reducing the bacteria numbers, maintenance also keeps these fixtures in good working condition.

4. Do regular testing

Use Legionella testing kits to check the bacteria levels for all the taps and shower heads inside the home or property. AquaCert offers testing kits that are quick and easy to use. Each kit includes sterile bottles. Use the bottles to take samples of water from the taps and shower heads. A courier will come and pick up the samples for testing at their laboratory. After testing, a copy of the results will be sent to the listed address.

5. Review the plan

Risk assessments need to be reviewed to ensure that they remain valid. This will let homeowners or property managers know if there are aspects of the plan that need to be changed. Involve the staff responsible for day to day water quality to highlight any problem areas.