Combating Legionella Bacteria in the Work Place and Home

Government Regulation, Public Awareness and Effective Monitoring and Maintenance of Water Treatment Systems are Reducing the Risk of Legionnaires’ Disease

By Mark J. Donovan

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia that is caused by Legionella bacteria. The disease obtained its name in 1976 after a large outbreak of pneumonia hit a group of people attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A total of 221 people attending the convention became sick with the “mystery disease”, with 34 people actually dying from it. By the following year it was determined that Legionella bacteria was the cause of the disease.

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in large public and commercial water systems such as domestic hot water systems, fountains, cooling towers, and even in large central air conditioning systems. Legionella bacteria can also be found in certain environments around the home such as in hot tubs and whirlpool spas, and in home central heating systems.

In addition, Legionella bacteria can also be found naturally in small freshwater ponds and creeks. Legionella bacteria can survive under a wide range of environmental conditions however it seems to thrive in stagnant water at temperatures between 68 degrees (F) and 113 degrees (F).

Legionnaire’s disease is airborne spread and contracted via breathing in vapor mists of Legionella pneumophila bacterium from infected water supplies. Case studies have shown that the Legionella pneumophila bacterium can travel upwards of 6km or more from its water source. Each year between 8,000 and 18,000 people are diagnosed and hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the United States alone. It is a treatable with antibiotics, however it can be fatal in up to 5 -30% of cases.

Today many countries have instituted laws that govern the design and maintenance of water treatment systems in large office buildings, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities.

Legionella Bacteria

The laws provide strict regulation on the monitoring, prevention, and control of Legionella bacteria. Companies, such as City Water & Environmental Consultants Ltd, in Hertford, England, have responded to these types of regulations by providing remote monitoring equipment and services of water treatment systems to reduce the risk of Legionella bacteria growth in the workplace. With their advance monitoring and alert systems, automated record keeping, and flushing systems, they can effectively combat the threat of Legionnaires’ disease, while ensuring compliance to local and applicable health and safety laws.

Around the home, people can kill Legionella bacteria, or avoid the growth of it altogether, by periodically turning up the temperature on their hot water tanks and water systems to above 140o F and allowing the hot water faucets to run for half an hour or so. Also, by constantly maintaining a higher hot water tank temperature the risk of Legionella bacteria growth can be permanently reduced.

For information on installing a shower pan membrane liner for a ceramic tile shower, see the Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation eBook from  The Shower Pan Membrane Liner EBook will quickly teach you the step-by-step process for installing the shower pan membrane liner correctly. It includes instructions on framing the shower stall, pouring the pre-slope and shower base mortar, and installing the shower pan membrane liner.

For information on how to tile a custom ceramic tile shower, see the “How to Tile a Custom Ceramic Tile Shower eBook” from This eBook will quickly provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to measure and install ceramic tile in a shower, including the installation of tile on shower walls, floors and curbs. It provides detailed instructions for every step in the process of tiling a custom ceramic tile shower and is loaded with instructional pictures!

Related Information

Additional Plumbing Resources from

Get Free Bathroom Remodeling Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on a bathroom remodeling project from one of our pre-screened and licensed bathroom remodeling contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your bathroom addition price estimate.