Water Treatment and Filtration
Water filters, such as those that are installed at the kitchen faucet, can be especially useful when at risk patients are in need of additional layers of protection, as these filters can be installed at the point where water comes out of the tap. It is very important that this type of filter be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations because if left for prolonged periods of time, Legionella can grow on the filters and actually degrade water quality. Commercially available filters for the following items should always be changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions:
- Showerhead and Faucet filters
- Refrigerator and icemaker filters
- Whole house water filters
Humidifiers create liquid droplets of water (aerosols) by design, so if they are not properly maintained they can be a mechanism for the growth and transmission of Legionella. Due to this, humidifiers must be closely examined. Humidifiers can be complex appliances that require a specialist, so it is best to get advice from the manufacturer or the supplier. Various types of humidifiers may present different levels of risk for exposure to Legionella bacteria.
- Atomizing humidifiers or cool air humidifiers use mechanical devices or pneumatic air to create a water mist that evaporates into the air stream. These units require regular maintenance.
- Heated pan humidifiers use a heat source to evaporate water from a pan open to the air stream but do not create water mists. Intermittent use of the device coupled with a warm pan of water may support microbial growth.
- Direct steam-type humidifiers inject boiler-generated steam directly into the air stream. These systems do not create water mists and normally operate above 70°C (158°F), that is a temperature at which Legionella cannot survive.
Basic maintenance and sanitation is needed to ensure that your humidifier is safe and free of waterborne bacteria.
- Daily: Empty, wipe and dry the unit. Fill with water that has been boiled and has cooled down. It is important that any water used in a humidifier be boiled and cooled, even if you are using bottled spring or distilled water, or water from filters.