Your Water Feature May Be Making Your Clients Sick

March 2, 2018 7:21 am Published by Leave your thoughts

A water feature is an attractive architectural element that brings the sound of nature into your office or commercial building, but it can also be a host to bacteria and become a major health risk. While water-borne pathogens may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the soothing sounds of an indoor water fountain, that doesn’t mean your facility isn’t at risk. Legionella pneumophila is a form of bacterium that infects about 3,000 people per year and this particular form of bacterium can thrive in man-made water features.

At HealthSafe Inspections Inc., we specialize in biohazard testing in Aspen, CO, and find that our clients are surprised to learn that their beautiful water fountain is the perfect breeding ground for Legionella pneumophila. If you have a water feature in your office or commercial space, here are a few things you need to know about the associated health risks.

What is Legionella pneumophila?

Legionella pneumophila is a bacterium that thrives in fresh water and is typically found in lakes and streams. However, under the right conditions, this bacterium can be found in man-made water features as well. The water in a fountain is typically room temperature and because the water is recirculated it can become stagnant and develop scum, which is the perfect environment for bacterium to grow.

How does it spread?

Obviously, your clients are not drinking the water from your water feature, so how can it make people sick? Well, you don’t need to drink the water in order to become infected with Legionella pneumophila; you simply need to breathe it in. Because water features have cascading water, the spray from the fountain enters the air. When an individual breathes in air that contains water droplets with this bacterium, it goes right into their lungs and finds a perfect new environment to thrive in.

What does it cause?

When inhaled, Legionella pneumophila can cause pneumonia and other symptoms, including fever, chills, coughing and shortness of breath. While most people who inhale the bacterium typically go unaffected by it, those who have a weakened immune system or some other preexisting condition are at a higher risk of contracting the illness. Because of this, breakouts caused by the presence of Legionella pneumophila in a water feature typically occur in hospitals or other healthcare settings.

How to prevent it?

You don’t necessarily need to get rid of your water feature because of the risk of Legionella pneumophila. As we mentioned before, Legionella pneumophila tends to develop in water features because the water is warm and can become stagnant. If you take precautions to help ensure that the water stays cool and is often filtered and replaced, you can decrease the risk of a Legionella pneumophila outbreak.

If you do have a water feature in your commercial space, you should have it checked for Legionella pneumophila before it’s too late. As your local service for biohazard testing in Aspen, CO, we can help. Just call HealthSafe Inspections Inc. today to schedule your service appointment.

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