K-12 Districts are Battling Legionella Bacteria

A school district in Virginia is showing us that small leaks or a broken toilet are not the most severe issues that school facility managers are facing.


Falling Creek is the third school to test positive for Legionella bacteria. The county also found Legionella bacteria in Johnston Willis Hospital, Richmond Ice Zone, U.S. Defense Supply Center Richmond, and Reynolds Metals cooling towers.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a type of waterborne bacteria that, when inhaled (like in showers, water fountains, faucets, or water features), can cause Legionnaires' disease.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It is contracted by inhaling the waterborne bacteria. While many people can survive this form of pneumonia, smokers, elderly people, and those with weak immune systems are at risk for severe illness or, even, death.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease?

If you are working in a facility that has exposed personnel to legionella bacteria, make occupants aware of the symptoms of Legionnaires' disease.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' Disease

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Confusion

How do you protect occupants from Legionella?


Specifying engineers, facility departments, and school districts should work together to prevent students and staff from contracting illness through Legionella bacteria.

When water sits, stagnant, waterborne pathogens are more likely to breed. So, the best course of action is to not let it sit. Choose auto-draining technology to prevent water from sitting in plumbing accessories. Chicago Faucets will be releasing a brand new technology in the next couple months that will automatically drain water in the shower system.

UV-C LED systems are over 99% effective. The water flows through the light where bacteria is deactivated. Chicago Faucets has an under the sink UV-C water treatment system that deactivates bacteria where it counts - at the point of use.

Other options:

  • High temperature flushing
  • Periodic chlorine flushing
  • Point of use membrane filters

In Conclusion

Facility managers and engineers who specify for schools have more on their plate than simple issues. Hundreds of students and staff need to be kept safe from waterborne pathogens like Legionella bacteria. But, the good news is that new products are coming on the market every day to keep students safe from contracting Legionnaires' disease.


Topics: Education