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Water (Basel). 2019 Aug;11(8). pii: 1528. doi: 10.3390/w11081528. Epub 2019 Jul 24.

Legionella pneumophila as a Health Hazard to Miners: A Pilot Study of Water Quality and QMRA.

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Department of Community, Environment, and Policy, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.
Division of Environmental Health Sciences, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Legionella pneumophila (L. pneumophila), the causative agent of legionellosis, is an aquatic bacterium that grows in warm water. Humans are only presented with a health risk when aerosolized water containing L. pneumophila is inhaled. In mining operations, aerosolized water is used as dust control and as part of the drilling operations, a currently ignored exposure route. This study characterized L. pneumophila concentrations in the mine's non-potable water and the relationship between L. pneumophila and chlorine concentrations. These concentrations informed a quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) model to estimate the infection risk to miners exposed to aerosolized water containing L. pneumophila. Fourteen water samples were collected from seven locations at a mine and analyzed for temperature, pH, chlorine, and L. pneumophila serogroup. Most samples (93%) tested positive for L. pneumophila cells. The faucet from the sprinkler system on the adit level (entrance to the underground mine levels) showed the highest concentration of L. pneumophila (8.35 × 104 MPN/L). Disability adjusted life years (DALYs) were estimated in the QMRA model and showed that the risk for all miners was significantly lower (p < 0.0001) with the ventilation system on than when the system was off. Our study showed that the use of a ventilation system at the adit level of the mine reduced the risk of infection with aerosolized L. pneumophila.


DALYs (disability adjusted life years); Legionella pneumophila; QMRA; air quality ventilation; mining safety

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