Legionellosis: Risk reduction to public health from environmental sources using biotechnology in the textile sector

Start date:                   01/04/2009

End date:                    01/01/2012


Coordinating beneficiary (1):            Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Textil (AITEX)

Associated beneficiary (2):                Serviecología y Tratamienti de aguas, S.L.

Associated beneficiary  (3):               Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. Departamento de Química. 

Associated beneficiary  (4):               Asociación de Empresarios textiles de la Comunidad Valenciana. (ATEVAL)

Associated beneficiary(5):              Pascual y Bernabeu,S.A.


Total budget:                                                  1.031.836€

Elegible budget:                                             1.012.336€

European Commision Contribution:              506.168€

( 50% of the elegible budget)


This project aims to solve the Legionella pneumophila bacteria problem in the textile sector developing a legislation proposal after validating and demonstrating a new eradication technique for the bacteria by attacking the root of the problem; stopping the bacteria from reaching at-risk facilities.

Biotechnology will be used to combat the problem and pilot purification and disinfection schemes will be put to the test on standing water that is used to fed these at-risk installations.

Specific Objetives:

-Compilation of all documentation and information that existis, both nationally and internationally, on the prevention and control of legionelosis.

– The creation of a proposal on Europe-Wide legal regulations, which the administration in each country can use to draw up legislation for this problem.

-The perfection of the pilot scheme and its subsequent implementation in the textile industry.

The establishment of the effectiveness of the scheme, as well as the technical and economic feasibility an environmental improvement gained.

-Another objective is aimed at under the scheme; that of ensuring the compatibility of the equipment used for disinfection with conventional bactericides such as chlorine. The law now states that the concentration of chlorine must be between 1 and 2 ppm.

– The dissemination and transfer of this technology to other small and medium companies via leaflets, web pages, publication in specialist magazines, mail shors and demonstration at fairs, etc. As well as direct contact between AITEX and ATEVAL members. These objectives are in line with the European Commission White Paper dated 23.10.2007: COM (2007) 603final;WHITE PAPER; Together for health; A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-2013.

Actions and means involved:

The methodology used to achieve these aims is primarily based on the compilation of all the documentation and information that exists, both nationally and internationallym on the prevention and control of legionellosis, an from this, the elaboration of Europe-wide legal proposal.

The experimental phase of the project will be developed in 3 clearly defined stages:

1.- The treatment of inoculated samples in the laboratory;  In the first instance, samples derived from standardised bacteria will be prepared and then samples isolated from at-risk equipment will be prepared. To develop this phase it is necessary to work with a laboratory pilot plant which belongs to Servyeco and is integrated by 2 oxidation reactors of 2 litres (40mm internal diameter and 20cm height) each one.

The obtained results will be required to design the pilot plant which will be installed in the textile industry.

2.-The treatment of inoculated samples on a prototype at semi-industrial scale; Water batches will be used that have been prepared in the same way as above. To develop this phase it is necessary assembling all the components of the semi-industrial prototype, starting up and making the necessary modifications to install in the textile industry.

3.-Pilot projects in the textile industry; Two tasks will be undertaken in the second phase; after treating the water used to feed at-risk equipment, the water at outlet will be analysed to check for the presence of bacteria, thus providing the effectiveness or orherwise of the pre-treatment. Advanced purification an disinfection systems will be tested, firs with clean water, an then, if the results are positive, the techniques will be transferred to recycled water: In this case a significant quantity of water will be recuperated depending on the type of refrigeration or humidification system in use.

Expected results

This project intends to find a satisfactory and efficient solution to reduce and eventually eliminate Legionella pneumophila in water, simultaneously obtaining two blocks of information.

The first block will include the drawing up of a proposal for legal regulations within the EC to enable national administration to redact its own legislation for the problem.

The second block will include firstly and possibly mos important, the identification, development and installation of the pilot project which, it is hoped will lead to the elimination of the Legionella bacteria from water which is used to feed at-risk equipment in the textile industry.

Secondly, and as a direct result of the success of the hopes expressed in the previous paragraph, equipment fed by water that has received treatment will require less maintenance. Furthermore, this maintenance will become a preventative process, different to the current state of constant cleaning and disinfection that exists at the moment.

The effectiveness of the treatments tested will be proved by controlling and identifying the Legionella pneumophila bacteria at a trace cell level, which is not detectable by rapid molecular genetic detection; particularly PCR and molecular and molecular techniques based on retro transcription (RT-PCR) of the messenger ARN of DNA. The detection and analysis of Legionella pneumophila will also be carried out in cultivarion according to ISO 11731:1998 and the bacterua mesophilos determination use ISO 6222:1999. According to these standards it will be expected to reduce the presence of legionella below 50 ufc/L into the supplying waters and control their proliferation below of 100 cellules by indicated molecular techniques.