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What Are Water Parasites and How Can Businesses Protect Themselves?

May 24th, 2024

Last updated: May 24th, 2024

Following outbreaks in the west of England and other locations around the UK in 2024, many businesses are wondering if water parasites impact them. What do they need to consider in terms of keeping employees and visitors safe?

In Devon, cryptosporidium was detected in the water supply in the Brixham area, and this led to 17,000 households and businesses being told by South West Water they must boil their water before use.

This is just one example, and there are many more potential parasites people need to be aware of.

What Are Water Parasites?

Water parasites are microscopic organisms that can contaminate water supplies, leading to serious health issues. For commercial properties and businesses, understanding these parasites and taking proactive measures to protect against them is crucial if you run a public-facing business.

Common parasites are:

  • Giardia. This protozoan parasite causes giardiasis, leading to symptoms like diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and nausea. It’s commonly found in contaminated drinking water and recreational water sources.
  • Cryptosporidium. Another protozoan, Cryptosporidium causes cryptosporidiosis, which is marked by severe diarrhoea and dehydration. It’s resistant to chlorine, making it particularly challenging to eliminate in water systems.
  • Legionella. This bacterium causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia. It thrives in warm water environments like hot tubs, cooling towers, and large plumbing systems, so testing is crucial.

These parasites can pose significant health risks to employees, customers, and anyone who comes into contact with contaminated water, making it essential for businesses to implement effective prevention strategies.

What Can Businesses Do About Parasites?

It is your responsibility if you run a business or a commercial property to make sure you keep people safe. You need a plan, and you have a responsibility to keep your water supply safe as well as to ensure that you can supply employees with drinking water.

Regular Testing

One of the most effective ways to prevent waterborne parasites is through regular testing and monitoring of the water supply. Businesses should conduct routine water quality tests to detect any contamination early. This includes checking for the presence of Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Legionella, and other harmful microorganisms. Engaging professional water testing services ensures accurate results and expert recommendations for addressing any issues.

Temperature Control

Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water environments, so maintaining proper temperature controls in water systems is critical. Hot water should be stored at a minimum of 60°C (140°F) and distributed at a minimum of 50°C (122°F) to prevent the growth of Legionella. Regularly check and adjust the temperatures of water heaters, storage tanks, and distribution systems to keep them within safe ranges.

Regular Cleaning

Routine cleaning and maintenance of water systems, including tanks, pipes, and cooling towers, can prevent the buildup of biofilms and other materials where parasites can thrive. Implementing a regular maintenance schedule and following industry best practices helps keep the entire water system clean and safe. Water chlorination and tank cleaning are both options to clean and ensure the water is safe.

Training Your Staff

Educating employees about the risks of water parasites and the importance of water safety is vital. Ensure that staff are trained in proper hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing and the safe use of water fixtures. Providing information on recognising the symptoms of waterborne illnesses can also help in early detection and response.

There’s only so much staff can do, but detection is crucial and staff should know at least some of the basics of waterborne diseases.


We offer a variety of commercial water hygiene services in Yorkshire and beyond. From water chlorination certificates to Legionella monitoring, you can trust our experienced team to keep your water supply safe.

Here are some of the water hygiene services we provide in the Yorkshire area:

We conduct all our testing to the highest standards and ensure legal compliance with COSHH regulations.

Discover our full range of Water Hygiene services →

Need a chlorination certificate in Yorkshire? Contact us today. We serve the Yorkshire region, offering fast response times and efficient service.

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