Legionella Tests

Legionella Tests: An Overview

Legionella tests are essential in order to identify, measure, and eliminate the presence of Legionella bacteria in plumbing and water systems and ensure that they remain combustible-free. Not only can the bacteria cause a serious form of pneumonia (Legionellosis or Legionnaires’ disease), but it can also spread through air-conditioning systems, showerheads, and cooling towers.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is an infection contracted by inhaling mist or water vapor that contains the legionella bacteria. The resulting illness is known as Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria spreads very quickly if the proper precautions are not taken, and can cause fever, cough, muscle aches, headaches, vomiting, and even death in worst-case scenarios.

Why Do Legionella Tests?

Testing for the presence of the bacteria in a building’s water and plumbing system is necessary to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease and other related illnesses. As outlined by health and safety authorities worldwide, regular Legionella testing is an important part of water management and should be carried out at least once a year.

Preparation for Legionella Tests

Before carrying out Legionella tests, the building and the areas of the building which contain water sources must first be examined to ensure that potential problems - such as defective pipework, poor water temperature control, and slow flow - would not hinder the tests being performed. In addition, areas of particular risk must be identified, such as hot and cold water systems, spa pools, cooling towers, water features, and other low-flow plumbing systems.

Procedure for Legionella Tests

The test involves taking samples of the water from the pipes, tanks, and showers in the building or area that has been identified as a potential source of contamination. The water samples are then tested for the presence of the Legionella bacteria. Results are available in 3-5 days, and depending on the results, further action may be required.

Types of Legionella Tests

There are two primary types of Legionella tests: direct and indirect testing. Direct testing involves taking a sample of the water and conducting laboratory testing for the presence of the bacteria. Indirect testing takes place at the point of use (e.g., taps, showerheads, etc.) and can provide an indication of the level of threat posed by the presence of the bacteria.

Risks of Legionella Tests

There are a few potential risks involved in Legionella testing, such as contamination of the testing equipment or the area being tested and potential disruption of the water supply due to the test. It is important to ensure that the testing environment is properly sanitized and that all safety measures are taken when handling the samples and the testing process.

When to Carry Out Legionella Tests

Legionella tests should be conducted at least annually, or more often if there is a change in the premises’ water management system or if an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease is suspected. It is also important to ensure that regular maintenance and cleaning of all water and plumbing systems is carried out, as this can reduce the risk of the bacteria spreading.