Hospital-acquired legionella pneumonia is emerging as a major problem; potable water distribution systems have been shown to be the primary reservoirs for the legionella organisms. As a result, disinfection measures have been developed to eradicate the organism from the hospital water supply. Each disinfection modality differs in its design and application such that choosing an appropriate cost-effective control measure requires careful analysis and planning.
We assess in comparative fashion the disinfection modalities of thermal eradication (“heat-and-flush”), instantaneous steam-heating system, chlorination, ultraviolet light irradiation, ozonation and metal ionization. The theoretical bases, the actual procedure or system, the logistics of implementation, the costs and personnel requirements and the advantages and disadvantages are presented for each modality. Criteria for selection of a method, the use of combinations of methods, parameters for installation, pitfalls in implementation and a plan for subsequent environmental surveillance are discussed in detail.