In our previous post, we discussed first steps for institutions to take in order to develop an effective water management plan to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease. And while it is certainly true that Legionnaires’ disease can occur within larger buildings, including older structures with older pipes, there is also the potential to encounter Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease with outdoor activities, including through gardening.
There are a couple of reasons for this. As this site has discussed before, Legionella bacteria often forms in stagnant and standing pools of water, particularly when this water happens to be warm. When gardening and trying to clean up an outdoor vicinity, individuals may become exposed to this stagnant water, an exposure which may inadvertently expose the individual to the Legionella bacteria as well and ultimately, put them at risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease.
Beyond stagnant water potentially serving as an outlet for Legionella bacteria to form, there is also a risk associated with soil, compost, and potting mix. Indeed Legionella longbeachae from potting mix represents nearly half of reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease in New Zealand and Australia. As such, Mark Blaskovich, a researcher at the University of Queensland, recommends wearing a dust mask when handling potting soil or dampening soil to prevent dust that might potentially contain Legionella bacteria from being inhaled.
So as individuals begin to think through potential gardening plans for their yards, keeping this small bit of advice in mind can help reduce the risk of exposure and ultimately make the experience more enjoyable.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.