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Potential exposure to legionella bacteria in municipal wastewater used to irrigate crop fields will likely not pose a health threat to residents living downwind, according to a postdoctoral researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey.
Using reclaimed wastewater from water treatment plants to irrigate crops can be a viable solution to ease the effects of drought and reduce stress on local surface and groundwater resources. Yet, legionella pneumophila, which is widespread in man-made water systems, can survive the aeration and air transport from irrigation systems with potential harmful effects. People who inhale the tiny water droplets can contract Legionnaires’ disease, a serious form of pneumonia.