Legionella pneumophila: From potable water to treated greywater; quantification and removal during treatment

Marina Blanky, Sara Rodríguez-Martínez, Malka Halpern, Eran Friedler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Greywater is an alternative water source that can help alleviate stress on depleted water resources. The main options for greywater reuse are toilet flushing and garden irrigation, both producing aerosols. For that reason transmission of inhalable pathogens like Legionella present a potential risk. To improve the understanding about Legionella in greywater, we traced the pathogen seasonally from the potable water system to the final steps of the greywater treatment in four houses in northern Israel. Physicochemical and microbiological parameters were analyzed in order to assess background greywater quality and to establish possible associations with Legionella. The mean concentrations of Legionella pneumophila isolated from the potable water system were 6.4×102 and 5.9×103cfu/l in cold and hot water respectively. By amending the ISO protocol for Legionella isolation from drinking water, we succeeded in quantifying Legionella in greywater. The mean Legionella concentrations that were found in raw, treated and treated chlorinated greywater were 1.2×105, 2.4×104 and 5.7×103cfu/l respectively. While Legionella counts in potable water presented a seasonal pattern with high concentrations in summer, its counts in greywater presented an almost inversed pattern. Greywater treatment resulted in 95% decrease in Legionella counts. No significant difference was found between Legionella concentrations in potable water and the treated chlorinated greywater. These findings indicate that regarding Legionella, reusing treated chlorinated greywater would exhibit a risk that is very similar to the risk associated with using potable water for the same non-potable uses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-565
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Chlorination
  • Greywater
  • Legionella
  • Removal efficiency
  • TOC
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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