Jun
16
2010

Can I catch Legionnaires disease from my car?

If you put water in here it could kill you (photo by schwartz.mark - CC-BY)

It was noticed in 2006 that professional drivers were five times as likely to catch Legionnaire’s disease as anyone else, and the UK’s Health Protection Agency set out to find out why.

They surveyed the habits of survivors of the disease, and of a control group without the disease. It turned out that those who caught the disease were more likely to have been a driver or a passenger in a vehicle that used water as the windscreen (windshield) washer fluid.

There were also more cases of the disease in those who drove through industrial areas—perhaps because they washed their windscreens more—and those who drove with their windows open, who probably inhaled more of the spray. The HPA estimates that this accounts for 22% of community-acquired cases of the disease in people under age 70.

Legionnaires’ Disease is a rare but dangerous form of pneumonia, and ten percent of the people who catch it will die as a result. The disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria, and a separate investigation by the UK’s Environmental Protection Agency found the bacteria growing in the windscreen washer fluid reservior of one in five cars. The warm, stagnant water provides a favorable environment for growth of the bacteria, which are then sprayed in a fine mist towards the driver and passengers.

Significantly, the bacteria was not found in washer fluid reservoirs that contained screen wash fluid instead of plain water.

So, to avoid catching Legionnaires’ Disease from your car, simply use screen wash fluid at the recommended concentration in your windshield washer tank, instead of using plain water.

I have been using plain water for my car’s windscreen washer to save money, but I’ll be using screen wash fluid from now.

Related questions:

  • Is Fibromyalgia a real disease or just an imaginary condition?Is Fibromyalgia a real disease or just an imaginary condition?
    For those who suffer from it, the answer is "Yes - it's real!" For the doctors who treat it, the answer is not so clear. Fibromyalgia encompasses of a host of symptoms. Chronic muscle pai...
  • Why shouldn’t one spit?Why shouldn’t one spit?
    Why shouldn't one expectorate? Ignoring immediate social responses, spitting could be illegal. At the end of the 19th century, it was discovered that tuberculosis could be transmitted by muc...
  • What’s the Toyota iQ like to drive?What’s the Toyota iQ like to drive?
    The Toyota iQ is a very small car, whose carbon dioxide emissions are so low that it is exempt from road tax in the UK. I recently had a chance to drive one, and it was a much nicer car than I wa...
  • How much does hot water cost?How much does hot water cost?
    Few people know how much the water from their cold tap costs, and even fewer realise how much the water from their hot tap costs. The cost of cold water in the UK is around a quarter of a penny...
  • Is “Running In” still needed for new cars?Is “Running In” still needed for new cars?
    A decade or more ago it was common to see a hand-made sign on the back window of the car ahead saying "Running In". The car was being driven more slowly than usual, and the sign told you that t...

  Need research? Quezi's researchers can answer your questions at uclue.com

Written by | 5,268 views | Tags: , , ,

No Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post.


Leave a Reply

Privacy Policy | Acknowledgements