Water Hygiene and Safety

Water - The Factstap

Water systems naturally contain bacteria and other organisms and these are generally safe in the home. However, if these bacteria are allowed to multiply, they can cause people to become ill and can be potentially fatal.

The most common and highest risk is from a bacterium called Legionella.

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs. They are also sometimes associated with large water systems, especially air conditioning systems, such as in offices, hotels and hospitals. You may have seen news items concerning these over the last few years. The bacteria can also be found in smaller hot and cold water systems in the home including cisterns, tanks, pipework, cylinders, taps and showers.

If conditions are favourable the bacteria may grow. So we need to work together with you to manage water hygiene in your home. This risk is very low, but real.

Legionella, like all living organisms, grows best in certain conditions. Although they can survive low temperatures, they grow best at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C. They also need a source of food such as scale, rust or sludge. High temperatures of over 60°C kill the bacteria.

If small droplets of water contaminated with Legionella are inhaled, it can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia which can be fatal.

It can affect anybody, but some groups of people are at higher risk of both contracting and having serious consequences. These include smokers, those over 45, heavy drinkers and those with a pre-existing medical condition such as chronic respiratory illness or a weakened immune system. It does affect men more often than women.

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Staying Safe Water Hygiene