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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2017 Nov;220(8):1295-1308. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.08.005. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

Growth of Legionella anisa in a model drinking water system to evaluate different shower outlets and the impact of cast iron rust.

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Van der Lugt B.V., Heiligland 28A, 1821 AC, Alkmaar, The Netherlands. Electronic address:
Regional Public Health Laboratory Kennemerland, Boerhaavelaan 26, 2035 RC, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Biosafety, Air and Water Microbiology Group, Public Health England, National Infection Service, Porton Down, Salisbury, England, United Kingdom.
Biolinea INT. SL and ATA Ecotecnologia e Hygiene SL, Spain.


Legionella continues to be a problem in water systems. This study investigated the influence of different shower mixer faucets, and the influence of the presence of cast iron rust from a drinking water system on the growth of Legionella. The research is conducted using a model of a household containing four drinking water systems. All four systems, which contained standard plumbing components including copper pipes and a water heater, were filled with unchlorinated drinking water. Furthermore, all systems had three different shower faucets: (A) a stainless-steel faucet, (B) a brass-ceramic faucet, and (C) a brass thermostatic faucet. System 1 was solely filled with drinking water. System 2 was filled with drinking water, and cast iron rust. System 3 was contaminated with Legionella, and system 4 was contaminated with a Legionella, and cast iron rust. During a period of 34 months, 450 cold water samples were taken from 15 sample points of the four drinking water systems, and tested for Legionella according to the Dutch Standard (NEN 6265). In system 4, with added cast iron rust, the stainless-steel mixer faucet (A) had the highest concentration of Legionella at >4.3log10CFU/l (>20,000CFU/l) and was positive in 46.4% of samples. In contrast, the stainless-steel mixer faucet (A) of system 3 without cast iron rust showed 14.3% positive samples with a maximum concentration of 3.9log10CFU/l (7600CFU/l) Legionella. Additionally, both contaminated systems (3 and 4), with the brass thermostatic faucet (C), tested positive for Legionella. System 3 in 85.7% of the samples, with a maximum concentration of 4.38log10CFU/l (24,200CFU/l), and system 4 in 64.3% of the samples with a maximum concentration of 4.13log10CFU/l (13.400CFU/l). These results suggest that both the type of faucet used in a drinking water system and the presence or absence of cast iron rust influence the growth of Legionella.


Drinking water; Faucet; Legionella spp.; Stainless steel; Thermostatic

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