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  • Lisamarie Lamb

Public Bathrooms: What’s The Legionella Risk?

When you’re looking at all the areas that might be a legionella risk, there is one room that, perhaps above all others, you need to consider; the bathroom. Or washroom, toilet, WCs, facilities… whatever it is you call it, the public bathroom is a haven for legionella bacteria, and it’s where, if there is a serious legionella risk, the most damage can be done. Read on to find out more.

The Areas Of Legionella Risk

What do you have in a public bathroom? There are sinks, toilets, perhaps showers, and all of these are the ideal places for legionella bacteria to live. The showers are, of course, the biggest risk, but they’re also less likely to be in place – still, if you do have them, they need to be cleaned regularly and tested for legionella bacteria on at least a quarterly basis.

As for the sinks, they are much less of a legionella risk. The water tends to be used all day, lessening the chances of it becoming stagnant within the pipework. However, if the water sprays out of the taps this should be fixed, and if you have TMVs installed, even though this is a health and safety measure, it can increase the legionella risk because you are reducing the temperature to less than 50oC, making it more likely that legionella can breed.

The toilet… surely there’s no risk with the toilet? Yes, water is used, and stored within the tank, and yes, when the toilet flushes there is a possibility of spray, but your face isn’t going to near enough to breathe in the droplets, is it? The unpleasant truth is that, unless you are more than five feet away from the toilet when it is flushed, you will be breathing in toilet water. It’s disgusting, but it’s true. There is a quick and easy solution though; close the lid before flushing. This will protect you and everyone else, and is much more hygienic.

What To Do?

Once you have realised the legionella risk within your public bathrooms, you’ll need to put some plans in place to reduce that risk as far as is practicable. Water storage and temperature control is a good place to start. Your hot water storage heaters or calorifiers should be storing water at over 60oC, and when it comes out of the taps, it should be 50oC at least. TMVs can cause issues here as they are usually set to 42oC, and more regular legionella testing will be required. Don’t forget your cold water either; this should be stored and distributed at less than 20oC.

There are some important weekly checks to add to your maintenance schedule for the public bathroom too. These include flushing through of little used outlets (some sinks are used more than others – in fact, some entire bathrooms are used less than others). Monthly checks should include temperature audits of the sentinel outlets; record the temperature for hot water after one minute of operation and record cold water temperature after two minutes of operation.

If you have any showerheads, they need to be dismantled and cleaned and descaled on a quarterly basis, and of course, legionella water samples should be taken throughout the bathroom area.

Assured Water Can Help

Assured Water Hygiene understand that undertaking some of these tasks is a burden, and trying to find the time to do them might be challenging. That’s why we can take them on for you; not only can you guarantee your public bathroom is being checked for its legionella risk, but you can guarantee that with Assured Water, it’s being done by a professional. Contact us today for more information.

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