04 April 2019

Legionella growth potential of drinking water produced by a reverse osmosis pilot plant

“Treatment processes, such as membrane filtration with reverse osmosis (RO), are used to produce drinking water with a high degree of biostability. To our knowledge, the influence of RO water on biofilm formation and growth of L. pneumophila has not yet been investigated. Therefore, this study aimed (i) to determine the Legionella growth potential of (remineralised) RO-water produced by a pilot plant and to compare this to conventional treated groundwater, and (ii) to determine if different pipe materials, in contact with remineralised RO-water, can cause growth of L. pneumophila. The Legionella growth potential of water was determined with the boiler biofilm monitor (BBM) that mimics the flow of water in a premise plumbing system. The Legionella growth potential of materials in contact with remineralised RO-water was determined by using the biomass production potential (BPP)-test. ATP concentrations in the biofilm on the glass rings from the BBM fed with (remineralised) RO water fluctuated around 100 pg ATP cm−2. In contrast, BBMs fed with conventionally treated water resulted in ten-fold higher ATP concentrations in the biofilm. Moreover, conventionally treated water had a Legionella growth potential that was 1000-fold higher than that of (remineralised) RO-water. Furthermore, glass, copper and PVC-C had the lowest biofilm concentrations and Legionella growth potential in the BPP-test, followed by PE-Xb, PE-Xc and PE-100. The highest biofilm concentration and Legionella growth potential were with PVC-P. Hence, our study demonstrated that remineralised RO-water did not enhance growth of L. pneumophila in the BBM that mimics the premises plumbing system. However, when PE or PVC-P materials are used growth of L. pneumophila can still occur in the premises plumbing system despite the high quality of the supplied remineralised RO-water.”

© 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

(Citaat: Learbuch, K.L.G., Lut, M.C., Liu, G., Smidt, H., van der Wielen, P.W.J.J. – Legionella growth potential of drinking water produced by a reverse osmosis pilot plant – Water Research 157(2019)55-63 – doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.03.037)

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