“Legionellosis, or Legionnaires' Disease, is a lung infection caused by Legionella pneumophila, a bacteria that provokes an infective disease of the respiratory system with sometimes very serious effects: transmission occurs through the nebulisation of hot water (aerosol) contaminated due to stagnation and insufficient maintenance of installations. Legionella is present in natural and artificial aquatic environments: spring water, including hot springs, rivers, lakes, muds, etc. From these environments the bacteria reaches artificial ones like urban pipes and plumbing systems in buildings, like water tanks and pipes, fountains and pools, that may amplify or disseminate the microorganism, creating a potential situation of risk for human health (Declerck et al., 2007; Fliermans et al., 1981).”
The mortality rate correlated with Legionella infection depends on a few specific factors (like the seriousness of the illness, the appropriateness of the initial anti-biotic treatment, the place where the infection was contracted, the patient’s pre-existing conditions) and may vary from 40-80% in untreated immunocompromised patients, to 5-30% in case of an appropriate treatment of the pathology. Overall, the lethality of Legionellosis varies between 5% and 10%.
Today, pursuant to the Consolidated Act, the employer is obliged to assess the actual risk of Legionella in all the workplaces under his responsibility, as well as subject the latter to the required anti-legionella treatments. Legionella research analysis are in line with the “Guidelines for the prevention and control of Legionellosis 79/CSR/2015”.
The best approach for the prevention of Legionella also refers to the concepts dictated by the World Health Organization in dealing with a Water Safety Plan:
This is a risk assessment activity to evaluate the correct and effective management of the «risk of Legionellosis»
Legionella Risk Assessment is a legal obligation required by Italian Legislative Decree 81/08, for which the document of reference is:
The safety measures must be implemented following the risk assessment procedure, indicated always in the above-mentioned Title X and must be actuated in conformity with the measures of Title I (of the above-mentioned Legislative Decree), making reference to the indications in Articles 15 and 18. The drafting of the document is based on the knowledge found in international scientific literature and also drew from the guidelines produced on international (WHO), European (EWGLI), and national/regional levels.
All the subjects, who in various ways are involved in the production, distribution, and supply of drinking water, have, each in his or her own way and proportion, a quota of responsibility in respecting the parametric values (which have replaced the old maximum concentrations admissible of the Italian Presidential Decree DPR 236/88) to the point in which the water – used for human consumption – comes out of the tap.
More precisely, the following subjects are obliged to guarantee the maintenance of the water quality requirements:
ECO has made available an independent risk assessment service and outsourcers who consent to certify a complete risk assessment through the analysis of the system and environmental samples, for the purpose of identifying critical points.
This activity consists of 3 main stages: