Main content area

Wide-scale study of 206 buildings in the Netherlands from 2011 to 2015 to determine the effect of drinking water management plans on the presence of Legionella spp.

van der Lugt, Wilco, Euser, Sjoerd M., Bruin, Jacob P., den Boer, Jeroen W., Yzerman, Ed P.F.
Water research 2019 v.161 pp. 581-589
Legionella pneumophila, buildings, drinking water, geographical variation, risk assessment, serotypes, water management, Netherlands
Previous analysis of the Dutch National Legionella Outbreak Detection Program 2002–2012 has shown that buildings required to maintain a Legionella control plan for their drinking water installation are more likely to test positive for Legionella spp. Than buildings without such a plan (38% versus 22% of samples). To clarify this discrepancy, we analysed the results of mandatory water sample testing conducted as part of risk assessments in 206 buildings in the Netherlands from 2011 to 2015. Of the 6171 samples analysed, 16.2% exceeded the Dutch drinking water standard for Legionella spp. of 100 CFU/litre. In buildings with ≤50 tap points, the average percentage of samples containing ≥100 CFU/litre was 28.2%, and from buildings with >50 tap points, it was 12.2%. Analysis of serial samples (taken every 6 months) from each building showed that 33.2% of all buildings tested positive for at least one sample every 6 months. The overall increase was 4.4% per year. Analysis of Legionella subgroups showed that while the majority of positive samples contained L. non-pneumophila (96.9%), some samples did contain L. pneumophila serogroup 1 (1.0%) and serogroups 2–14 (2.1%). Our data suggest that the Dutch mandatory risk assessment and drinking water management plan is not sufficiently effective in preventing the proliferation of Legionella spp. and may even contribute to proliferation. This analysis should now be expanded to include other areas of the Netherlands in order to understand the geographical differences that we observed in our results, and why smaller buildings appear to be more likely to test positive for Legionella spp.