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Impact of Electronic Faucets and Water Quality on the Occurrence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Water: A Multi-Hospital Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2014

Dominique Charron*
Department of Civil Engineering, Polytechnique Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Emilie Bédard
Department of Civil Engineering, Polytechnique Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval, Quebec, Canada
Cindy Lalancette
INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval, Quebec, Canada
Céline Laferrière
Department of Microbiology and Immunology (Infection Control), CHU Ste-Justine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Michèle Prévost
Department of Civil Engineering, Polytechnique Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Address correspondence to Dominique Charron, Polytechnique Montréal, PO Box 6079, Station Centre-ville, Montréal (Qc), Canada H3C 3A7 (



To compare Pseudomonas aeruginosa prevalence in electronic and manual faucets and assess the influence of connecting pipes and water quality.


Faucets in 4 healthcare centers in Quebec, Canada.


Water samples from 105 electronic, 90 manual, and 14 foot-operated faucets were analyzed for P. aeruginosa by culture and enzymatic detection, and swab samples from drains and aerators were analyzed by culture. Copper and residual chlorine concentrations, temperature, and flow rate were measured. P. aeruginosa concentrations were analyzed in 4 consecutive volumes of cold water and a laboratory study was conducted on copper pipes and flexible hoses.


P. aeruginosa contamination was found in drains more frequently (51%) than in aerators (1%) or water (culture: 4%, enzyme detection: 16%). Prevalence in water samples was comparable between manual (14%) and 2 types of electronic faucets (16%) while higher for foot-operated faucets (29%). However, type 2 electronic faucets were more often contaminated (31%) than type 1 (14%), suggesting that faucet architecture and mitigated volume (30 mL vs 10 mL) influence P. aeruginosa growth. Concentrations were 100 times higher in the first 250 mL than after flushing. Flexible hoses were more favorable to P. aeruginosa growth than copper and a temperature of 40°C led to higher counts.


The types of faucets and connecting pipes, flow rate, and water quality are important parameters influencing the prevalence and the concentrations of P. aeruginosa in faucets. High concentrations of P. aeruginosa in the first 250 mL suggest increased risk of exposure when using the first flush.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;00(0): 1–9

Original Articles
© 2014 by The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All rights reserved 

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