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What taps can encourage legionella growth?

Stainless steel kitchen sinks and taps remain a popular choice for homeowners, designers and builders alike. There are several reasons for this. For one, stainless steel has no equal when it comes to durability. Taps bearing the 304-grade are known to be the sturdiest models. They will not bend or become deformed over time.

They are also non-porous. This characteristic allows the material to retain its pristine condition for a substantially long period of time. As a result, taps made from stainless steel will not stain. Scratches can also be easily buffed out.

But despite these advantages, stainless kitchen taps do have a few drawbacks. One of these drawbacks can affect your health as well as your family’s.

Scientific Report

According to an article published in New Scientist, your stainless steel kitchen tap could make your home more vulnerable to Legionnaires’ disease. A team of experts, led by safety engineer conducted a three-year experiment to determine how the tap’s material could affect the growth and spread of Legionnaires’ disease.

Three types of taps were examined: brass ceramic, brass thermostatic and stainless steel. For each type of tap, three conditions were tested:

  • Clean water passing through the tap.
  • Water contaminated with Legionella anisa was passed through the tap.
  • Water containing both the microbe and rust was passed through the tap.

Results indicated that out of the different types of taps and scenarios, stainless steel taps infected with both rust and microbe were the most vulnerable. Approximately half of the water samples from the rusty stainless steel taps tested positive for the microorganism. This indicates that the bacteria are more likely to survive and multiply when rust is also present in the water.

However, it is important to note that this only happens with stainless steel models. Brass mixers did not produce the same result, even when rust was introduced in the water sample.

Should I Swap my Tap?

Does that mean that you need to swap out your stainless steel kitchen tap for a different material? Not necessarily. According to experts, people are not known to contract the disease from using a rusty tap.  Furthermore, the strain of bacteria infecting humans is different from the ones used in the experiment. If  you have an immunocompromised member in your family household, it’s something to consider. Also ensure aerosols are kept to an absolute minimum.

However, if you want to err on the side of caution, it is a good idea to take the necessary steps to prevent Legionnaires’ disease in your home. Use Legionella testing kits to ensure that your taps are free from the microbes causing the disease.