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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1983 Nov; 46(5): 1134–1139.
PMCID: PMC239530

Susceptibility of Legionella pneumophila to chlorine in tap water.


A study was conducted to compare the susceptibility of legionellae and coliforms to disinfection by chlorine. The chlorine residuals used were similar to concentrations that might be found in the distribution systems of large public potable water supplies. The effects of various chlorine concentrations, temperatures, and pH levels were considered. A number of different Legionella strains, both environmental and clinical, were tested. The results indicate that legionellae are much more resistant to chlorine than are coliform bacteria. At 21 degrees C, pH 7.6, and 0.1 mg of free chlorine residual per liter, a 99% kill of L. pneumophila was achieved within 40 min, compared with less than 1 min for Escherichia coli. The observed resistance is enhanced as conditions for disinfection become less optimal. The required contact time for the removal of L. pneumophilia was twice as long at 4 degrees C than it was at 21 degrees C. These data suggest that legionellae can survive low levels of chlorine for relatively long periods of time.

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