Aerosols generated by car washes can cause pneumonia and Legionnaires’ Disease
Two men became seriously ill with Legionnaires' disease after inhaling infected water droplets from separate car washes in Italy, a study found.
Legionella bacteria can grow in large numbers of water systems and remain idle for extensive periods of time. Systems like car washes create even higher risk, as they are capable of generating aerosols, which when inhaled, can infect human lungs and cause infection such as pneumonia or Legionnaires’ Disease.
Researchers from the University of Padua say that: 'Any water source producing aerosols should be considered at risk for transmission of Legionella bacteria, including car wash installations used by a large number of customers and where the is poor maintenance.'
Moreover, some car washes have the additional problem of collecting wash water and recirculating it during further wash cycles. This can increase the amount of general debris and nutrients in the water which can help support the growth of bacteria.'
And it is not just carwash users who could be at risk. Aerosols generated by car washes can drift reasonable distances and if they are contaminated with Legionella they could be a source of infection to other people in the area.
Legionnaires' Disease is on the rise
Legionnaires' disease affects around 500 people a year in England alone and is fatal in approximately one in ten cases.
According to The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, incidences have hit record levels, which is thought to be due to bacteria gathering in shower heads as less people are having baths.
Public Health England recently revealed showers in up to 1.5 million households across the UK could be harbouring life-threatening Legionella bacteria