Eliminating Legionella and Other Water-Borne Bacteria from Your Pool: A Comprehensive Guide
Keeping your pool safe and sanitary is one of the primary responsibilities of all pool owners. That means that you need to know what Legionella and Water-Borne bacteria are, how to keep them out of the water in your pool, and how to get rid of them if they do get into your pool.
What Is Legionella And Other Water-Borne Bacteria
Legionella bacteria, the bacteria responsible for legionnaires disease, was first discovered in 1976 when an outbreak of mystery pneumonia affected attendees of an American Legion convention in Philadelphia.
The disease, which can be deadly, was quickly linked to the Legionella bacteria and became a significant cause of concern for public health.
Like other water borne-bacteria, which can include things like E.coli bacteria, Giardia, and some kinds of harmful algal blooms, legionella bacteria spread and cause disease through contact with water.
Specifically, the bacteria thrive in contained water with a biofilm. Biofilm, which creates a slimy texture on surfaces, is partially formed from bacteria and other germs, micro-debris, and other very small particles.
Biofilms both feed and protect pathogenic bacteria in a lot of cases, which means that management of swimming pool bacteria and all water-borne bacteria needs to include plans for eliminating and preventing biofilm.
If your pool feels slimy, there’s already a problem.
How to Keep Your Pool Safe from Legionella and Other Water-Borne Bacteria?
There are two key things you need to do to keep your heated pool or hot tub safe from legionella bacteria and other water-borne bacteria.
Those two things are regular maintenance and filter cleaning, and the second is preventing bacterial contamination in the first place.
Having a filter that runs properly is the most important thing you can do to prevent water-born bacteria, for a number of reasons. Not only does a good filtration system help eliminate contamination and keep the water clean, but it also helps keep the water in your pool moving.
Moving water is important because both biofilms and water-borne bacteria are more likely to collect and form in stagnant water.
Proper filter maintenance also includes occasional deep-cleaning of the filtration system, and using a disinfecting solution on the filter.
Chlorine and bromine, which are both common tools for keeping pool water sanitary, can be effective, but they are less helpful for cutting through biofilms and eliminating Legionella.
Pool disinfection like using a chlorine-shock treatment or an algaecide treatment (depending on what kind of maintenance your pool needs at the time) go a long way to helping combat Legionella, but they aren’t the only options or even the most advanced options.
In addition to maintenance, it’s important to keep your pool clean. Avoid going to the bathroom in your pool (or perform disinfecting maintenance if you suspect that children might have done so), don’t bring foods or drinks into the pool with you, and try to cover your pool ahead of wind storms and rain to prevent outside contamination.
You won’t ever be able to prevent all contamination, but taking some basic precautions can keep your level of contamination much lower and less frequent.
How to eradicate Legionella and other water-borne bacteria from your pool?
Eradicating water-borne bacteria is an incredibly important field of study, and there are still a lot of people looking for more treatment methods and options.
The good news is that there are a range of effective treatment options.
Most people are okay with a combination of disinfectant treatments like Chlorine and Bromine, UV light exposure in filtration systems, and careful monitoring with regular shock treatments to boost the disinfecting effect of other maintenance.
However, there are other options.
Copper-silver ionization is a chemical-free solution that provides powerful disinfection for water, including eliminating legionella bacteria. Copper-silver ionization also has the advantage of working regardless of water temperature, and without dissipating the way Chlorine treatments can in high temperatures.
Better yet, copper-silver ionization systems are effective even against highly treatment-resistant water-borne bacteria.
Alternatively, ozone pool treatments, which use an ozone generator to expose the water to a high level of ozone, also eliminate pathogenic bacteria while keeping the water clean, safe, and healthy. Ozone also allows for pool water that doesn’t smell or taste bad, while also offering effective disinfection.
Lastly, UV sanitation runs water through a high level of UV light, which destroys potential pathogens in the water without using chemicals. These filtration systems work the same way staying out in the sun can give you a bad sunburn but at a much higher intensity.
More and more pools and pool filtration systems are being made with one or a combination of these technologies to improve the sanitation of pools, reduce maintenance, and reduce the risk of pathogens spreading through your pool.
That said, while upgrading can provide a lot of benefits, not every pool or hot tub needs to use the most advanced strategies for dealing with legionella to avoid legionnaires disease.
How to Monitor the Quality of the Swimming Pool Water Regularly?
Most pool owners are encouraged to run water quality testing at least once a week, and regular maintenance at least once a month, to maintain overall water quality.
Depending on the type of pool you have, you should, at a minimum:
- Check pool pH
- Check Alkalinity, free chlorine (in chlorine pools), and cyanuric acid levels
- Maintain water circulation all the time (or as much of the time as possible)
- Check the filter backwash and clean regularly
- Vacuum pool walls and floor, and scrub clean the pool once per week.
- (in chlorine pools) chlorine shock the pool once per week, and additionally after rainstorms, pool parties, and any known contamination risk.
- Adjust alkalinity and pH as needed
If you follow these steps regularly, you should be able to keep your pool clean and legionella-free.
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