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Safety at your petrol station: drinking and auto wash water need to be checked for legionella

Petrol stations are not entirely safe places to visit. Auto tanks are filled with flammable or explosive fuel such as petrol, diesel or methane. Additionally, a petrol station is always busy with car traffic. Due to these increased risiks station operators have a strong sense for safety. Due to current studies a new hazard arises: water vapour.

The knowledge that drinking water installations and dirty water storage tanks at petraol stations with car wash facilities may contain relevant concentrations of potentially pathogenic germs such as legionella and pseudomonas is relatively new.

Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring in the general water environment but must have the right temperature range of between 20C and 60C, stagnation time and nutrients in order to multiply, and then aerosols (very fine mists) to disperse them in a form in which they can be inhaled.

The bacteria colonise (find a home) in sediments and organic matter such as biofilm and dirt where they multiply and are shielded from disinfectants.

Legionella bacteria require a temperature range of 20C to 60C and suitable nutrients, such as found in dirty water storage tanks, to flourish and multiply.

Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection causing pneumonia and in severe cases can cause internal organs to shut down. People more susceptible to developing Legionna ires’ disease include the elderly, smokers, those already ill or weak.

Mist, water vapour, aerosoles? How could I possibly acquire an legionella infection at the petrol station?

There ar motorway service areas with warm showers for truck drivers that could be populated with legionella bacteria. Petrol stations with large shops usually furnish sculleries that may pose a harm on the employees washing the dishes. Most importantly, in the car wash the rubber hoses to pressure-wash the dirt off the car are the most likely to be contaminated.

In February 2018 two men in Hartberg (Austria) were hospitalized with legionellosis after washing their cars at a petrol station close to their homes. A significant amount of legionellae was found in the spray lances they used for pre-wash.


On-site inspection with rsik assessment and setting of sampling points
nationwide sampling by certified, qualified and HSSE-experienced personnel, water analysis at accredited partner laboratories
On the job-experience  from sampling at 1.500 petrol stations throughout entire Germany with standardised IT-based result reporting
Instant cooling of samples immediately after drawing in recommended temperature range (2 - 8 °C) with two-step cooling system (own innovation)
escalation management, dead line monitoring of periodic sampling and testing, technical controlling by biologist, chemist, technician & attorney


information brochure concerning water testing at car wash facilities