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      A REVIEW OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF RESIDENTIAL HOT WATER INFRASTRUCTURE: PUBLIC HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, AND CONSUMER DRIVERS

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          Abstract

          Residential water heating is linked to the primary source of waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States, and accounts for greater energy demand than the combined water/wastewater utility sector. Furthermore, home water heating is the second largest energy consumer in the home and thus represents an integral part of the water-energy nexus. To date, there has been little practical research that can guide decision-making by consumers, public health officials and regulators with regards to water heater selection and operation to minimize energy costs and the likelihood of waterborne disease. Scientific uncertainties associated with existing “green” advice have potentially created misguided policy with long-term negative repercussions. This review is aimed at defining the current state of knowledge related to hot water infrastructure and in highlighting current gaps in the research. While there are many sustainability claims of certain water heater types (i.e., hot water recirculation systems and instantaneous water heaters) these claims have not been substantiated in head-to-head testing of the interplay between water temperature, energy, microbial growth, and scaling, all measures that need to be better defined.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Isolation prevalence of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacteria in Ontario, 1997 2003.

          The prevalence of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection is reportedly increasing. A study was undertaken of the "isolation prevalence" of pulmonary NTM in Ontario, Canada between 1997 and 2003 and the frequency of pulmonary NTM "disease". In a retrospective cohort, the "isolation prevalence" was studied by reviewing all positive NTM culture results from the Tuberculosis and Mycobacteriology Laboratory, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Toronto from 1997 to 2003. This laboratory identifies at least 90% of NTM isolates in Ontario, Canada. Prevalence was compared between years using a negative binomial model. To study the frequency of "disease" (defined by American Thoracic Society criteria), the records of patients who had an isolate in 2003 and had been assessed at our hospital were reviewed. 22,247 pulmonary isolates were obtained from 10,231 patients. The "isolation prevalence" of all species (excluding Mycobacterium gordonae) was 9.1/100,000 in 1997, rising to 14.1/100,000 by 2003 (p<0.0001) with a mean annual increase of 8.4%. Similar increases were observed for individual species. 200 patients assessed at our institution were studied using American Thoracic Society criteria for "disease". Microbiological criteria were fulfilled by 37%. Of patients with adequate data, 74% fulfilled clinical criteria, 77% fulfilled radiological criteria and 33% fulfilled all criteria. The "isolation prevalence" of pulmonary NTM has significantly and rapidly increased in Ontario; a sizeable proportion of patients are likely to have "disease".
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            Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Murcia, Spain

            An explosive outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred in Murcia, Spain, in July 2001. More than 800 suspected cases were reported; 449 of these cases were confirmed, which made this the world’s largest outbreak of the disease reported to date. Dates of onset for confirmed cases ranged from June 26 to July 19 , with a case-fatality rate of 1%. The epidemic curve and geographic pattern from the 600 completed epidemiologic questionnaires indicated an outdoor point-source exposure in the northern part of the city. A case-control study matching 85 patients living outside the city of Murcia with two controls each was undertaken to identify the outbreak source; the epidemiologic investigation implicated the cooling towers at a city hospital. An environmental isolate from these towers with an identical molecular pattern as the clinical isolates was subsequently identified and supported that epidemiologic conclusion.
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              Occurrence of Legionella in hot water systems of single-family residences in suburbs of two German cities with special reference to solar and district heating.

              A total of 452 samples from hot water systems of randomly selected single family residences in the suburbs of two German cities were analysed for the occurrence of Legionella. Technical data were documented using a standardized questionnaire to evaluate possible factors promoting the growth of the bacterium in these small plumbing systems. All houses were supplied with treated groundwater from public water works. Drinking water quality was within the limits specified in the German regulations for drinking water and the water was not chlorinated. The results showed that plumbing systems in private houses that provided hot water from instantaneous water heaters were free of Legionella compared with a prevalence of 12% in houses with storage tanks and recirculating hot water where maximum counts of Legionella reached 100,000 CFU/100ml. The presence of L. pneumophila accounted for 93.9% of all Legionella positive specimens of which 71.8% belonged to serogroup 1. The volume of the storage tank, interrupting circulation for several hours daily and intermittently raising hot water temperatures to >60 degrees C had no influence on Legionella counts. Plumbing systems with copper pipes were more frequently contaminated than those made of synthetic materials or galvanized steel. An inhibitory effect due to copper was not present. Newly constructed systems (<2 years) were not colonized. The type of hot water preparation had a marked influence. More than 50% of all houses using district heating systems were colonized by Legionella. Their significantly lower hot water temperature is thought to be the key factor leading to intensified growth of Legionella. Although hot water systems using solar energy to supplement conventional hot water supplies operate at temperatures 3 degrees C lower than conventional systems, this technique does not seem to promote proliferation of the bacterium. Our data show convincingly that the temperature of the hot water is probably the most important or perhaps the only determinant factor for multiplication of Legionella. Water with a temperature below 46 degrees C was most frequently colonized and contained the highest concentrations of legionellae. It is evident that the same factors affecting colonization by Legionella in large buildings also exist in small residential water systems. If temperatures are low there is no difference between large and small systems and Legionella counts are high in both. Since private residences are an important source of community-acquired legionellosis, these findings emphasize the need for preventive control measures in small residential buildings. In some situations it may be necessary to install filtration devices at the point-of-use.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                jgrb
                Journal of Green Building
                College Publishing
                1552-6100
                1943-4618
                1943-4618
                Fall 2011
                : 6
                : 4
                : 77-95
                Author notes
                aCorresponding Author: Virginia Tech, 418 Durham Hall, Blacksburg, VA, USA 24060, 00-1-540-808-7878 (p), 00-1-540- 231-7916 (f), randihl@ 123456vt.edu .

                bVirginia Tech, 418 Durham Hall, Blacksburg, VA, USA 24060, edwardsm@ 123456vt.edu .

                Article
                jgb.6.4.77
                10.3992/jgb.6.4.77
                ©2011 by College Publishing. All rights reserved.

                Volumes 1-7 of JOGB are open access and do not require permission for use, though proper citation should be given. To view the licenses, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

                Page count
                Pages: 19
                Product
                Categories
                RESEARCH ARTICLES

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