Water and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Reopening Buildings After Shutdowns: Reducing Water-Related Health Risks

Published: June 2020

Authors: Peter Gleick

Pages: 3



Under normal conditions, the flow of tap water through building water systems prevents the buildup of bacteria and metals in pipes, and hot water tanks. But after a period of shutdown, like during the coronavirus pandemic, stagnant water may breed bacteria including Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease), leach lead and other metals from pipes and plumbing, take on unpleasant tastes and odors, or build up potentially harmful disinfection by-products.

This fact sheet seeks to raise awareness of these risks and outline the steps water utilities and building managers can take to protect the public health as businesses and schools begin to reopen following COVID-related closures.

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