Sensor Network for Legionella Mitigation in Plumbing
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe and often lethal form of pneumonia that is particularly prevalent in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The disease is caused by legionella, an opportunistic waterborne pathogen that finds its ideal habitat in warm and humid environments. Because legionella thrives at elevated temperatures and is resistant to most common biocides, it frequently colonizes hot water plumbing systems. Legionella can be effectively managed by ensuring that the water temperature stays within a tightly controlled range. Unfortunately this can be difficult to achieve in practice, since many plumbing systems contain sections of pipe where water cannot circulate - known as dead legs. These dead legs are usually created unintentionally when buildings are expanded or renovated. Once in place, dead legs are not easily identified and can become prime breeding ground for legionella. This project focuses on developing a way to monitor plumbing systems in order to identify high-risk areas for legionella growth. This enables building managers to make data informed decisions about how to best mitigate the risk of legionella contaminating the plumbing system.