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Your windshield washer fluid could make you sick

Written by: QMI Agency
 

May. 19, 2014

Medical instruments. (Fotolia.com)


A new study adds fuel to the argument that an automobile is a lethal weapon.

Researchers at Arizona State University claim that a form of bacteria responsible for respiratory illness, including the deadly pneumonia known as Legionnaire's disease, may be able to grow in windshield washer fluid.

"Washer fluid spray can release potentially dangerous numbers of these bacteria into the air. These results suggest that automobiles may serve as a source of transmission for Legionella infections," said Otto Schwake, a doctoral student at Arizona State University.

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Legionella are bacteria found naturally in the environment, usually in water. They are not spread from person to person but instead are transmitted via mist or vapor containing the bacteria.

The team of scientists say they conducted a series of experiments where they attempted to grow Legionella bacteria in a variety of different washer fluid preparations. It found that the bacterial concentrations increased over time and they were able to maintain stable populations for up to 14 months.

"This study is the first to detect high levels of Legionella in automobiles or aerosolized by washer fluid spray," says Schwake. "While potential transmission of a deadly respiratory disease from a source as common as automobile windshield washing systems is significant, the study also points to the fact people can be exposed to pathogens - particularly those occurring naturally in the environment - in previously unknown and unusual ways."

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