Legionnaires’Disease is caused by Legionella bacteria. There are over twenty species of Legionella, of which Legionella pneumophilia is responsible for the majority of cases.
Legionella is a bacteria associated with water and is widespread in the enviornment. It has been found in lakes, rivers, creeks, hot springs and other bodies of water and soils.
Legionella is also found in man made systems such as cooling towers associated with air conditioning and systems, where the temperature of the water is kept between 20C and 45C. These man made systems can provide conditions which allow the bacteria to breed to large numbers.
Control of Legionella is essential. Suitable water treatment practices should be used where appropriate. Personal meausres to ensure personal protection should be applied in high risk situation.
Infection is known to be acquired through breathing in aerosols (very fine droplets of water) which contain the bacteria. It is not passed from person to person nor is it acquired through drinking Legionella contaminated water.
Yes – All records of bacteriological monitoring, water treatment and testing, and cooling tower cleaning and disinfection must be maintained in an orderly manner, and be available on site for inspection by officers authorised under the Health Act 1958. Authorised officers include municipal council environmental health officers.
There are statutory penalties for failing to comply with the requirements of the legislation. If your tower is implicated as the source of infection in a case of Legionnaires’disease and it has not been maintained in accordance with the legislation, you may also be liable under occupational health an safety legislation. You may also be liable for common law damages claims by person infected or their dependants, on the grounds of negligence.