US: the windshield washing fluid – a potential health threat image

A recent study, released during the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting, has come to the conclusion that the windshield washer fluid poses a serious hazard to health.

According to the report, the very common and usually disregarded washer fluid could – on a common base – contain the deadly bacteria that cause the Legionnaire’s Disease. The bacterium causes a deadly pneumonia-like illness and was found to be present in 75% of the washer fluid reservoirs of a tested fleet of buses belonging to the central Arizona school district, and what’s worse, the research found the microorganism can survive in the fluid for as long as 14 months.

“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 study author Otto Schwake, a doctoral student at Arizona State University.

The study is still among the few conducted on the subject, but aimed to potentially validate previous reports coming from Great Britain, which suggested that close to 20% of the cases involving the disease came from windshield washer fluid contact. The Legionella bacteria is naturally occurring and has been known to be found in water and transmitted usually through air conditioners, hot tubs or water mists.