Legionella and water temperature: when is there a health risk?

Some people live in the low mountain range who have overdone their savings. On it leaves at least one current Press release from the district of Harz shut down. The local health department is registering “currently more reports of evidence of legionella in hot water systems”. Residential buildings are also affected. Lowering the water temperature can create conditions that are very good for legionella to multiply.

However, the people in the Harz district are not alone in their austerity measures. 45 percent of homeowners have already lowered the temperature of their hot water tanks. A result is one Survey by the market research institute GfK on behalf of the Viega company. More than two-fifths (43 percent) of those who have already lowered the temperature prefer 45 to 49 degrees for their hot water tank.

But is that really a good idea? After all, legionella multiply particularly well in water between 25 and 55 degrees. The most important questions and answers.

What are legionella?

Legionella is bacteria. They come in small numbers in the environment naturally before, for example in ponds or in groundwater.

Legionella can different diseases cause. Symptoms caused by Legionella include flu-like symptoms, but also severe pneumonia, informs the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA).

Water temperature and legionella: when do they multiply?

The comfortable temperature of legionella is between 25 and 45 degrees. At these temperatures they reproduce best. If the water is warmer than 60 degrees, they are killed, writes the Robert Koch Institute. If the water is colder than 20 degrees, they hardly multiply anymore.

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Especially Deposits in water pipes Legionella offer good conditions to multiply if the temperature is right and the water stands for a long time.

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Legionella and hot water: is too low a temperature dangerous?

Many people like water that is around 38 degrees when they shower. So it makes sense to lower the temperature at the thermal baths to this number to save energy – right? That’s exactly what you should let go says Benedikt Schaefer from the Federal Environment Agency to Deutschlandfunk: “It’s not so much about the temperature as it leaves the shower, it’s about the temperature in the tank itself or in the pipes.”

The hot water from the thermal baths is mixed with cold water to trickle out of the tap at temperatures that are comfortable for people. In order not to offer legionella the ideal breeding ground for multiplying, the Therme set to at least 60 degrees be. This hygiene measure is very important.

If the water is colder than 20 degrees, legionella are no longer particularly keen to reproduce. That However, the Federal Environment Agency points this outthat the population of Bacteria in cold water pipes can grow when standing water is heated by environmental influences. It is therefore safer to only use water that is used in the household after it has been heated to 60 degrees. This kills any bacteria present.

At what temperature do Legionella die?

“The hot water should always have a temperature of at least 55 degrees everywhere in the pipe system and always maintain a temperature of at least 60 degrees at the outlet of the drinking water heater,” recommends the Federal Environment Agency.

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But there are also pure cold water pipes. As a rule, a cold water temperature of 15 degrees can be maintained all year round in Germany, writes “house journal”. Because the pipes are laid deep in the ground, where the groundwater comes from. Legionella do not multiply at such low temperatures – but existing ones are not killed either.

If you want to reduce the risk of legionella, you should do the following:

  • Use water pipes regularly: This avoids stagnant water in which legionella can multiply.
  • Either really cold or really hot: The water in the pipes should have a temperature of more than 55 or below 25 degrees. The drinking water heater should be set to at least 60 degrees.
  • Insulate water pipes well: So that no heat escapes on the way to the tap or cold water does not heat up.

What happens if you drink water with legionella?

Usually nothing. Getting infected from drinking contaminated water is unlikely, but possible. Namely when you choke and the legionella like that through the trachea into the lungs reach.

How do people become infected with Legionella?

“The pathogens are transmitted through atomized, misted water. the pathogen-containing droplets can spread in the air and be inhaled,” explains the BZgA. This can happen, for example, in showers or whirlpools or through humidifiers. An infected person does not transmit the bacteria to another person.

What are the symptoms of diseases caused by Legionella?

The bacteria trigger two different clinical pictures in humans:

Legionnaires’ disease: It is also known as Legionella pneumonia. This is a form of pneumonia. Symptoms include cough, chills, headache, severe malaise, and high fever. Legionnaires’ disease must be treated by a doctor.

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Pontiac fever: The symptoms of this disease include flu-like symptoms such as fever, malaise, headache and body aches. However, the lungs do not become inflamed. Pontiac fever usually goes away on its own within a week.

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