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Keeping Legionella Out of UK Schools and Universities

Legionella Prevention Plan in Schools - image of school hallway, and child running to class.

Keeping Legionella Out of UK Schools and Universities

Legionella Prevention in Schools and universities in the UK, is a crucial part of protecting the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors. This potentially deadly waterborne pathogen can easily spread through the complex plumbing systems found in dormitories, gyms, cafeterias, labs, classrooms and more.

If Legionella is allowed to colonise and proliferate, it poses a severe threat. Thankfully, with the right precautions and experienced legionella contractors like Pipe Testing Services, UK academic institutions can implement legionella prevention in schools and ensure the integrity of their water systems.

This article discusses the risks of Legionella bacteria in UK schools and universities and explains how a customised water safety plan from Legionella specialists Pipe Testing Services can help prevent outbreaks. It covers solutions such as; conducting risk assessments, implementing disinfection, temperature control, training and emergency response. All of which to ensure the safety of water systems in dorms, labs, kitchens, gyms and all high-risk areas on campus or in schools. PTS has the expertise to help academic institutions control Legionella and protect the health of students, faculty, staff and visitors through proactive monitoring, treatment, and diligent oversight.

    Where Does Legionella Come From in Schools/Universities?

    Legionella bacteria occur naturally in freshwater environments, but can multiply to dangerous levels in manmade water systems. The bacteria thrive in warm, stagnant water and can form resilient biofilms. Schools and universities provide ideal conditions for growth in:

    Once Legionella colonies establish, they can be spread via water droplets and mists, putting students and faculty at risk when inhaled.

    Legionella Prevention Plan in Schools - image of school hallway, and child running to class.

    Legionella Statistics in the UK – An Ongoing Threat

    Legionnaires’ disease has been a growing public health concern in recent years. According to Public Health England (PHE), there were 448 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales in 2015. This number rose to 530 cases in 2016 – an 18% increase year-over-year.

    In 2017, PHE reported 498 confirmed cases. The following year saw even higher numbers, with 545 cases confirmed across England and Wales in 2018 based on PHE surveillance.

    While the COVID-19 pandemic complicated Legionella reporting in 2020, available PHE data shows 228 confirmed cases from January to October of that year. This suggests 2020 was on track to see another high annual caseload prior to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The overall trend is clear – Legionnaires’ disease has become more prevalent in recent years. PHE points to an aging population and increased testing as likely factors. However, this makes it no less imperative that building owners and managers remain vigilant in controlling Legionella risks.

    Regular testing, disinfection, and proper maintenance of water systems is critical.

    Legionella Prevention for School Labs

    Proper temperature control is essential. Water baths should maintain temperatures outside Legionella’s ideal growth range of 20-45°C. Incubators and warm-water equipment should hold temperatures above 55°C to limit risks. Chilled water systems should keep water below 20°C.

    Frequent disinfection of equipment, water lines and fixtures helps destroy any Legionella. Flushing hoses, piping and equipment with hot water above 70°C kills bacteria. Lab workers can periodically swab equipment with chlorine or peroxide solutions. Eyewash stations should be flushed and disinfected regularly.

    Follow all manufacturer guidelines for cleaning and preventative maintenance of incubators, water baths, autoclaves and other lab equipment. Replace filters and parts as recommended. Promptly fix any leaks. Remove scale build-up. Keep detailed maintenance logs.

    Take extra precautions in labs intentionally working with Legionella for research. Use biosafety cabinets for procedures that may aerosolize bacteria. Decontaminate waste before disposal. Ensure protective equipment and containment protocols are followed stringently.

    By following proper protocols, schools and universities can help ensure their lab facilities don’t contribute to Legionella risks. Contact PTS today for guidance developing your lab water safety plan.

    Preventing Legionella Growth in Dorm Showers and Bathrooms

    Showers and bathrooms in student dormitories pose heightened risks for Legionella. The combination of warm, stagnant water and frequent aerosolization from showering creates ideal conditions for legionella growth.

    The high occupancy of dorms also raises risks. Legionella could spread rapidly if allowed to colonise showerheads and plumbing systems. Careful prevention is critical.

    Thermostatic mixing valves on showerheads and faucets help maintain proper temperatures. These valves blend hot and cold water to prevent conditions that promote Legionella growth.

    Students should flush dorm showerheads for several minutes at full hot temperature before each use. This helps clear any stagnant water where Legionella may lurk.

    Improving showers and faucets with new low-flow designs minimises water stagnation. Aerators should be cleaned or replaced regularly.

    Secondary disinfection systems provide an added safeguard against Legionella in dorm bathroom water. Careful chlorine dosing, copper-silver ionization, or point-of-use filtration can be implemented.

    Implementing a Water Management Plan

    A comprehensive water management plan tailored to your facilities is key to controlling Legionella. This includes careful monitoring, routine disinfection, temperature control, equipment design and maintenance.

    As Legionella experts, Pipe Testing Services can assess your school’s unique risks and help you establish effective control measures. This includes:

    Proactive Monitoring and Disinfection

    Routine testing of water samples enables early detection of Legionella before it spreads. Our technicians can provide weekly or bi-weekly collection and lab analysis of samples from your water systems. Disinfectant levels are also checked to ensure efficacy.

    If Legionella counts exceed recommended thresholds, Pipe Testing Services can perform emergency disinfection of your water supply lines and equipment. This flushing or chlorination kills any Legionella present. Ongoing scheduled disinfection provides added safeguards.

    Contact Pipe Testing Services Today

    Don’t take chances with water safety. Legionella bacteria can sneak in and wreak havoc if given the opportunity. With PTS as your partner, you can implement a comprehensive Legionella control plan tailored to your school or university. We make it easy and cost-effective to protect your students, faculty, staff and visitors.

    Contact us today for a free quote or consultation. Our water treatment experts are here to help!

    Phone – 01922 451646

    Email –

    Address – Unit 27 Birchbrook Industrial Estate, Shenstone, Lichfield, Staffs, WS14 0DJ