Plumbing Sensor Network for Legionella Risk Factor Control
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious and often lethal form of pneumonia that is particularly prevalent in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The disease is caused by legionella, an opportunistic waterborne pathogen that finds its ideal habitat in warm and humid environments. Legionella thrives in specific temperature ranges, is resistant to most common biocides and disinfectants, and can often be found in plumbing systems. Legionella can be effectively managed by ensuring that the water temperature stays within a tightly controlled range. Unfortunately this can be difficult to achieve in practice, since many plumbing systems contain sections of pipe where water cannot circulate - known as dead legs. These dead legs are usually created unintentionally when buildings are expanded or renovated. Once in place, dead legs are not easily identified and can become prime breeding grounds for legionella. This project developed and tested a system that allows hospital facilities managers to identify dead legs and other high-risk areas for legionella growth in real time. This will enable building managers to make data-based, informed decisions about how to best mitigate the risk of legionella in the plumbing system.