Are You Cleaning Your Windshield Off With Water? It Could Make You Sick!

June 25th, 2010 by

What do you use to clean your windshield off? Do you use water or do you use windshield washer fluid? You should always use windshield washer fluid for more reasons than one. Have you ever heard of Legionnaire’s disease? Well using water in your reservoir to clean off your windshield could cause you to get this. 

Legionellosis is an infectious disease caused by Gram negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella.[1][2] Over 90% of legionellosis cases are caused by Legionella pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between 25 and 45 °C (77 and 113 °F), with an optimum around 35 °C (95 °F).

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in July 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. On January 18, 1977 the causative agent was identified as a previously unknown bacterium, subsequently named Legionella. Some people can be infected with the Legionella bacterium and have only mild symptoms or no illness at all. – Wikipedia

I remember when this broke out in Philadelphia. If I remember correctly it killed around 27 people. That’s why when I came across this article I new immediately that I needed to share it with my readers. Here in Ohio we have cold cold winters. We know that keeping water in your windshield washer reservoir could result in the water freezing and cracking your reservoir. I don’t think we would have thought there was a possibility of getting sick though. Thanks to Edmunds Daily for sharing this story with me so I could share it with you. 

As reported by the BBC, a recent study by the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency concluded that using water as wiper fluid creates a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease. When water remains stagnant in the warm engine bay of a vehicle, the conditions are perfect for the bacteria to flourish. As drivers spray their windshields with contaminated water, they release the bacteria into the air, where the microbes can be inhaled as they pass through the air vents. Researchers hypothesized that wiper water may be responsible for 20 percent of the reported Legionnaire’s disease cases in England.

What can be done to combat this “legion” of germs? The solution (literally) may already be in your car — wiper fluid. This inexpensive blue liquid kills the bacteria. Though Legionnaire’s disease is rare and tends to manifest in warmer climates, it’s better to err on the side of caution. The next time you are getting your car serviced, make sure the service tech puts in wiper fluid, not just water. Or just head down to your local auto-parts store or gas station and pour a bottle in the reservoir.

Windshield washer fluid is relatively cheap and can be purchased at an auto parts store or even at a gas station. Be smart, be cautious, and fill your reservoir up with windshield washer fluid! If you have a crack in your reservoir from using water in freezing temps or it’s not working properly take it to your Dayton Cadillac dealer and let us take a look at it. If you have any questions please let me know. 

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