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J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Aug;101(2):437-42.

Effect of flow regimes on the presence of Legionella within the biofilm of a model plumbing system.

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1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Abstract

AIMS:

Stagnation is widely believed to predispose water systems to colonization by Legionella. A model plumbing system was constructed to determine the effect of flow regimes on the presence of Legionella within microbial biofilms.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

The plumbing model contained three parallel pipes where turbulent, laminar and stagnant flow regimes were established. Four sets of experiments were carried out with Reynolds number from 10,000 to 40,000 and from 355 to 2,000 in turbulent and laminar pipes, respectively. Legionella counts recovered from biofilm and planktonic water samples of the three sampling pipes were compared with to determine the effect of flow regime on the presence of Legionella. Significantly higher colony counts of Legionella were recovered from the biofilm of the pipe with turbulent flow compared with the pipe with laminar flow. The lowest counts were in the pipe with stagnant flow.

CONCLUSIONS:

We were unable to demonstrate that stagnant conditions promoted Legionella colonization.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

Plumbing modifications to remove areas of stagnation including deadlegs are widely recommended, but these modifications are tedious and expensive to perform. Controlled studies in large buildings are needed to validate this unproved hypothesis.

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