Environmental Factors Impacting Legionella in Drinking Water

David Otto Schwake, Absar Alum, Morteza Abbaszadegan. Impact of Environmental Factors on Legionella Populations in Drinking Water. Pathogens 2015, 4(2), 269-282; doi:10.3390/pathogens4020269

To examine the impact of environmental factors on Legionella in drinking water distribution systems, the growth and survival of Legionella under various conditions was studied. When incubated in tap water at 4 °C, 25 °C, and 32 °C, L. pneumophila survival trends varied amongst the temperatures, with the stable populations maintained for months at 25 °C and 32 °C demonstrating that survival is possible at these temperatures for extended periods in oligotrophic conditions. After inoculating coupons of PVC, copper, brass, and cast iron, L. pneumophila colonized biofilms formed on each within days to a similar extent, with the exception of cast iron, which contained 1-log less Legionella after 90 days. L. pneumophila spiked in a model drinking water distribution system colonized the system within days. Chlorination of the system had a greater effect on biofilm-associated Legionella concentrations, with populations returning to pre-chlorination levels within six weeks. Biofilms sampled from drinking water meters collected from two areas within central Arizona were analyzed via PCR for the presence of Legionella. Occurrence in only one area indicates that environmental differences in water distribution systems may have an impact on the survival of Legionella. These results document the impact of different environmental conditions on the survival of Legionella in water.

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