Waterborne Pathogens Unit
Water is becoming increasingly important in occupational health worldwide. Whereas the traditional focus in occupational health has been on dust and dust related diseases, the field of occupational health is expanding rapidly and with this comes the understanding that workers are exposed to other hazardous agents that may be even more important than the traditionally known ones. For this reason, the NIOH has a waterborne pathogens unit to increase our understanding of the role that bacteria transmitted through water distributions systems play in the causation and transmission of disease in workers in various industries, as well as the general public.
The waterborne pathogens unit is mainly involved in research into certain waterborne bacteria (for example Legionella) that have evolved in such a way that they are able to use amoebae as hosts. This enables them to escape most of the water treatment methods currently used in industry, and allows them to multiply and spread to new environments.