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Open AccessReview

Critical Review: Propensity of Premise Plumbing Pipe Materials to Enhance or Diminish Growth of Legionella and Other Opportunistic Pathogens

1
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1145 Perry St., 418 Durham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
2
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA 24450, USA
3
TechLab, 2001 Kraft Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA
4
c/o Marc Edwards, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1145 Perry St., 418 Durham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2020, 9(11), 957; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9110957
Received: 9 October 2020 / Revised: 12 November 2020 / Accepted: 13 November 2020 / Published: 17 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Legionella Contamination in Water Environment)
Growth of Legionella pneumophila and other opportunistic pathogens (OPs) in drinking water premise plumbing poses an increasing public health concern. Premise plumbing is constructed of a variety of materials, creating complex environments that vary chemically, microbiologically, spatially, and temporally in a manner likely to influence survival and growth of OPs. Here we systematically review the literature to critically examine the varied effects of common metallic (copper, iron) and plastic (PVC, cross-linked polyethylene (PEX)) pipe materials on factors influencing OP growth in drinking water, including nutrient availability, disinfectant levels, and the composition of the broader microbiome. Plastic pipes can leach organic carbon, but demonstrate a lower disinfectant demand and fewer water chemistry interactions. Iron pipes may provide OPs with nutrients directly or indirectly, exhibiting a high disinfectant demand and potential to form scales with high surface areas suitable for biofilm colonization. While copper pipes are known for their antimicrobial properties, evidence of their efficacy for OP control is inconsistent. Under some circumstances, copper’s interactions with premise plumbing water chemistry and resident microbes can encourage growth of OPs. Plumbing design, configuration, and operation can be manipulated to control such interactions and health outcomes. Influences of pipe materials on OP physiology should also be considered, including the possibility of influencing virulence and antibiotic resistance. In conclusion, all known pipe materials have a potential to either stimulate or inhibit OP growth, depending on the circumstances. This review delineates some of these circumstances and informs future research and guidance towards effective deployment of pipe materials for control of OPs. View Full-Text
Keywords: non-tuberculous mycobacteria; Pseudomonas; Acinetobacter; amoebae; copper; iron; PEX; PVC; drinking water; disinfection non-tuberculous mycobacteria; Pseudomonas; Acinetobacter; amoebae; copper; iron; PEX; PVC; drinking water; disinfection
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cullom, A.C.; Martin, R.L.; Song, Y.; Williams, K.; Williams, A.; Pruden, A.; Edwards, M.A. Critical Review: Propensity of Premise Plumbing Pipe Materials to Enhance or Diminish Growth of Legionella and Other Opportunistic Pathogens. Pathogens 2020, 9, 957. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9110957

AMA Style

Cullom AC, Martin RL, Song Y, Williams K, Williams A, Pruden A, Edwards MA. Critical Review: Propensity of Premise Plumbing Pipe Materials to Enhance or Diminish Growth of Legionella and Other Opportunistic Pathogens. Pathogens. 2020; 9(11):957. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9110957

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cullom, Abraham C.; Martin, Rebekah L.; Song, Yang; Williams, Krista; Williams, Amanda; Pruden, Amy; Edwards, Marc A. 2020. "Critical Review: Propensity of Premise Plumbing Pipe Materials to Enhance or Diminish Growth of Legionella and Other Opportunistic Pathogens" Pathogens 9, no. 11: 957. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9110957

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