Biofilm formation in an experimental water distribution system: The contamination of non-touch sensor taps and the implication for healthcare

Ginny Moore*, David Stevenson, Katy Anne Thompson, Simon Parks, Didier Ngabo, Allan Bennett, Jimmy T. Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hospital tap water is a recognised source of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. UK guidance documents recommend measures to control/minimise the risk of P. aeruginosa in augmented care units but these are based on limited scientific evidence. An experimental water distribution system was designed to investigate colonisation of hospital tap components. P. aeruginosa was injected into 27 individual tap ‘assemblies’. Taps were subsequently flushed twice daily and contamination levels monitored over two years. Tap assemblies were systematically dismantled and assessed microbiologically and the effect of removing potentially contaminated components was determined. P. aeruginosa was repeatedly recovered from the tap water at levels above the augmented care alert level. The organism was recovered from all dismantled solenoid valves with colonisation of the ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) diaphragm confirmed by microscopy. Removing the solenoid valves reduced P. aeruginosa counts in the water to below detectable levels. This effect was immediate and sustained, implicating the solenoid diaphragm as the primary contamination source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-687
Number of pages11
JournalBiofouling
Volume31
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Department of Health. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of PHE or any other Government Agency.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.

Keywords

  • Biofilm
  • Model water distribution system
  • Non-touch sensor taps
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Tap water contamination

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