However, some people are at higher risk, including:
- People over 45 years of age
- Smokers and heavy drinkers
- People suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- Anyone with an impaired immune system.
Where are legionella bacteria found?
The bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. Since Legionella bacteria are wide spread in the environment, they may also contaminate and grow in purpose built water systems such are cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and whirlpools and hot tubs.
Any water system that has the right environmental conditions could potentially be a source or legionella bacteria growth, so is there a reasonably foreseeable legionella risk in your water system:
- Water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system
- The water temperature is all or some part of the system is between 20 – 45 ◦ C
- There are some sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale and organic matters
- The conditions are likely to encourage bacteria to multiply
- It is possible for water droplets to be produced and if so can they be dispersed over a wide are e.g. showers and aerosols from cooling towers and susceptible to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc.
What are your duties?
Under general health and safety law as an employer, or a person in control of a premises e.g. a landlord, you have health and safety duties and need to take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella.
You must appoint a “Duty Holder” to be responsible for managing the risk of Legionella in your premises, have you appointed this person, do they know what to do?