Outbreaks of Legionnaires disease are preventable, but requires meticulous cleaning of water systems and precautionary measures that do not allow the growth of Legionella bacteria. Implementing proper maintenance strategies for water systems in large buildings or structures is the best strategy for preventing infections. This is especially important in locations such as hotels, hospitals, and long-term care facilities, where Legionella bacteria are commonly found.
Preventative Measures for Legionnaires Disease
Some of the strategies that should be enforced are:
- Ensuring the water temperature in the system remains below 20ºC (68ºF) or above 60ºC (140ºF), since the bacteria survives in warm contaminated water.
- Keep water clean of rust, algae, sludge, amoebae, slime, bioﬁlm, lime scale, corrosion products or other organic matter, and other bacteria, as legionella prefers water that is contaminated.
- Keep the water flowing, because legionella thrives in water that is stagnant for too long.
- Clean and disinfect water heaters once a year.
- Disinfect cold water tanks twice a year, and clean on an annual basis.
- Cooling towers and associated pipes used in air conditioning systems need cleaning and disinfecting at least twice a year.
- Clean fountains and decorative features at least twice a year, and chlorinate daily.
- Continually treat spa pools (Whirlpool spas, jacuzzis, and/or spa tubs) with chlorine or bromine. Monitor the chemical levels at least three times a day, and at the minimum replace half of the water daily. Clean and disinfect the entire water system at least weekly.
- Free chlorine level should be 3–10 parts per million
- Bromine level should be 4–8 parts per million
- pH should be 7.2–7.8
When people are infected with legionella from an establishment, its owners and/or operators can be held liable for victims’ physical and financial suffering. If you or a loved one contracted legionella, speak with an experienced Legionnaires disease lawyer.
Problem Areas for Legionella Growth
The locations where Legionella bacteria multiply are:
- Hot and cold water systems, including storage tanks/ cisterns
- Any system or part of a system where the water is warm, i.e. between 68 F to 113 F (20 C to 45 C), and particularly when above 86 F (30 C)
- Slime (biofilm) and dirt on pipes feeding showers and taps and tank surface
- Water heaters and hot water storage tanks
- Pipes with little or no water flow (such as unoccupied rooms in a hotel)
- Dead legs/redundant pipework where water can stagnate
- Rubber and natural fibers in washers and seals
- Flexible hoses and artificial rubber seals
- Scale and corrosion in storage vessels, pipes, showers and taps
How to Protect Yourself and Others
Before using a hot tub/spa, find out if it is being maintained properly. Local retailers or pool supply stores carry test strips that will check the chlorine, bromine, and pH levels. Speak to the owner or operator if the levels are not where they should be, to protect other users. Other questions to consider asking are:
- What was the score for the hot tub/spa on the most recent health inspection?
- Are disinfectant levels and pH checked at least twice a day when it is being heavily used?
- Are routine maintenance activities being done? (such as cleaning, replacing the water and/or water filter when recommended)
We are Here to Help
If you or a loved one has contracted Legionnaires disease, The Lange Law Firm, PLLC can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call (833) 330-3663 or contact us online today.