On the 21st of July,1976, around 4,000 World War II veterans were reunited with each other at the 58th American Legion's Convention in Philadelphia. It was supposed to be a day of reminiscing and revelry; but something went wrong a few days after the celebration: 34 people died from a mysterious illness.

It was later discovered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that an entirely new strain of disease had killed these people: Legionella or Legionnaire's Disease. The investigation team reported that the bacteria had thrived in the hotel's cooling towers; and these structures spread the deadly pathogens through the hotel's air conditioning system. But plumbers in West Vancouver believe that it's more than an HVAC issue, as it's also a plumbing problem.

Legionella can thrive in water, and spread throughout unmaintained plumbing and HVAC systems. This is important to consider since you brush your teeth, wash your hands, and bathe with water delivered by your plumbing. If the water in your system is at an ideal temperature range for these microorganisms to thrive, the Legionella will continue to threaten the health of your family.

Cannot survive above 60 degrees

According to the U.K. Health and Safety Executive, the ideal condition for Legionella to thrive is water with a temperature of between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius. Below 20 degrees, Legionella will continue to survive, but lapse into a dormant state. Your best bet in eliminating the nefarious bacteria is by setting your Vancouver water heater to above 60 degrees.

Experts say the disinfection range happens around 70 to 80 degrees, at which temperature these bacteria die. In fact, Legionella would only last two minutes at best in water heated to a temperature of 66 degrees. It's for this reason that health officials strongly recommend keeping the water at temperatures no lower than 60 degrees.

What about scalding?

Of course, with water at these germ-killing temperatures, there's also an increased risk of being scalded. Experts say that people can suffer second-degree burns from a three-second exposure to water at 60 degrees. As a result, officials are calling for an amendment of the current National Plumbing Code in Canada to lower the prescribed temperature to 49 degrees Celsius.

Keep in mind that the temperature pertains to the storage temperature for tank-type heaters. Experts say hot water can eventually be delivered at a lower temperature to prevent scalds.

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