Skip to comments.Car Windshield Cleaning Fluid Carries Deadly Bacteria (Legionnnaires)
Posted on 05/20/2014 11:22:28 AM PDT by blam
Douglas Main, Popular Science
May 20, 2014, 12:40 PM
Washing fluid can carry the bacterium responsible for Legionnaires' disease.
That which cleans your windshield is not exactly clean itself: A new study found that windshield washing fluid can harbor the bacteria that causes
Legionnaires' disease, a severe type of pneumonia that hospitalizes as many as 18,000 Americans every year.
Scientists already knew that there was a link between Legionnaires' and riding in automobiles, but didn't know why--and the fluid may be the reason.
In the study, presented today (May 19) at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, scientists found that 75 percent of washing fluid from school buses in central Arizona carried a variety of the Legionella bacterium that causes the disease.
Washer fluid has the traits a potentially dangerous source of Legionella exposure needs, Otto Schwake, a microbiology Ph.D. student at Arizona State University in Tempe and the studys lead author, told Bloomberg. It is aerosolized, heated and people are regularly exposed to it. The results from this study support previously demonstrated epidemiological evidence for a link between automobiles and Legionnaires disease."
Legionella bacteria can cause the disease when they are dispersed in the air and inhaled, and it got its named from an outbreak at a meeting of the American Legion in 1976. Most people exposed to the pathogen do not get infected, and it most commonly infects the elderly, smokers, and those with compromised immune systems.
(Excerpt) Read more at popsci.com ...
Is it Chinese Window Fluid that is causing this or any fluid...
I would think the washing fluid is already toxic enough to kill bugs in it.... Maybe not...
“I would think the washing fluid is already toxic enough to kill bugs in it.... Maybe not...”
It’s got alcohol in it so it won’t freeze. How can the bacteria live in alcohol?
I thought windshield washer fluid was full of methyl alcohol. I guess that’s not enough to kill the pathogen?
If you spill some and slip on it, you can break your neck. Also if you drink it, you have a high probability of damaging your liver. I’m surprised they forgot to mention that.
I lost track of them right after their check cleared; I had no idea they'd take me seriously.
Does anti freeze ruin the paint?
Is it because of the water sitting in the reservoir for so long?
Windshield washer fluid is sold in many formulations, and some may require dilution before being applied, although most solutions available in North America come premixed with no diluting required. The most common washer fluid solutions are given labels such as “All-Season”, “Bug Remover”, or “De-icer”, and usually are a combination of solvents with a detergent. Dilution factors will vary depending on season, for example in winter the dilution factor may be 1:1, whereas during summer the dilution factor may be 1:10. It is sometimes sold as sachet of crystals, which is also diluted with water. Distilled water is the preferred diluent, since it will not leave trace mineral deposits on the glass.
Anti-freeze, or methylated spirits, may be added to a mixture to give the product a lower freezing temperature. But methanol vapor is harmful when breathed in, so more popular now is an ethanol winter mix, e.g. PAV[clarification needed], water, ethanol (or isopropanol), and ethylene glycol.
Concerns have been raised about the overall environmental aspects of washer fluid. Widespread, ground-level use of wiper fluid (amounting to billions of liters each year) can lead to cumulative air pollution and water pollution.
Consumer advocacy groups and auto enthusiasts believe that the alcohols and solvents present in some, but not all, windshield washer fluid can damage the vehicle. These critics point to the corrosive effects of ethanol, methanol, and other components on paint, rubber, car wax, and plastics, and groups propose various alternatives and homemade recipes[specify] so as to protect the finish and mechanics of the motor vehicle.
On 14 June 2010, the UK’s Health Protection Agency announced the results of a preliminary study of 75 patients, which found an association between the use of plain water as wiper fluid and Legionnaires’ disease, which is spread by breathing in aerosolized bacteria from infected water. It had been noticed that prevalence of the disease was five times higher among professional drivers.
Note to self: Do not drink car windshield washer fluid.
” Most people exposed to the pathogen do not get infected, and it most commonly infects the elderly, smokers, and those with compromised immune systems”.
I’m an elderly smoker.
I am doomed.
( According to “studies” there should be no such thing as an elderly smoker.) :-)
I don't drink it, touch it or bathe in it.
Good grief. Never seen so many “citation needed” entries. Looks like some jackass decided that was the next-big-thing to get bent out of shape over.
I was pretty sure that windshield washing fluid contains a significant quantity of alcohol, and bacteria don’t tend to survive in alcohol...
You can never let a crisis or perceived crisis go to waste!
One would think that the most likely source for Legionnaire’s disease for passengers would be the liquid condensation that can accumulate in the AC system.
I found this, which doesn’t mention alcohol..
Could it be that only those formulas that don’t contain alcohol are the problem?
No, but it will blind them...
The research was done in Arizona. In AZ, we don't need no stinkin' antifreeze in our windshield washer fluid.
Since washer fluid stays contained until it reaches outside of the car I would agree with you that it more than likely would be in the car’s AC system.
Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted by inhalation of aerosolized water and/or soil contaminated with the bacteria. It is not airborne and it is not transmitted from person-to-person. Sources where temperatures allow the bacteria to thrive include hot-water tanks, cooling towers and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems, such as those commonly found in hotels and large office buildings. Though the first known outbreak was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, cases of legionellosis have occurred throughout the world.
Legionella pneumophila thrives in aquatic systems where it is established within amoeba in a symbiotic relationship. In the built environment, central air conditioning systems in office buildings, hotels, and hospitals are sources of contaminated water. Other places it can dwell include cooling towers used in industrial cooling systems as well as evaporative coolers, nebulizers, humidifiers, whirlpool spas, hot water systems, showers, windshield washers, fountains, room-air humidifiers, ice making machines, and misting systems typically found in grocery store produce sections.
Potential sources of contaminated water include cooling towers (some 40% to 60% of ones tested) used in industrial cooling water systems as well as in large central air conditioning systems, evaporative coolers, nebulizers, humidifiers, whirlpool spas, hot water systems, showers, windshield washers, architectural fountains, room-air humidifiers, ice making machines, misting equipment, and similar disseminators that draw upon a public water supply.
Yes. One would.
But most people would rather drive with a dirty windshield than without air conditioning.
probably not good to use as an eyewash or a douche, or cook pasta in, either. why they didn’t bring these obvious ones is really beyond me.
It's 190 Proof of pure windshield cleaning power.
I have a reliable supplier in Franklin County - and if he's out of stock I can always import some from nearby West Virginia or Kentucky.
It doesn’t make a very good hair tonic either.
Some bacteria is really tough. I have made a lot of fresh plant tinctures using 180 proof (90%) alcohol. The only water is what is present in the plant material yet I have seen stuff growing in jars of tincture that wasn't pressed out soon enough.
correction - I used 190 proof (95%) alcohol.
Brake fluid does. (non synthetic)
When I saw the mention of Franklin County connected with alcohol I knew you were from Virginia without looking at your profile. :)
Don’t lick your windshield
It might also have something to do with the large size of the washer reservoirs on today's cars and trucks, as well as the fact that alcohol will tend to evaoprate out in hot weather. If you don't use the washer often and rarely top it off with fresh fluid, there might be very little alcohol present.
That makes sense.
“The only water is what is present in the plant material yet I have seen stuff growing in jars of tincture that wasn’t pressed out soon enough.”
Good grief! Those bugs must have been pretty tough.
Some bacteria don’t seem to have a problem with alcohol.
Well, if you weren't already deceased because of your smoking, I'd advise you to never drink windshield washer fluid.
I'm sorry I couldn't warn you off sooner...:-(
Just got home from my annual physical.
I aced it-—and my terrific doctor just shakes her head and chuckles.
Great news, Mears!
I’m calling my congressman and demanding that the govt issue antibiotics immediately for all windshield washer tanks.
Set up roadblocks nationwide and have forcible administration!
No religious exemptions permitted!
I’ve been wondering if Legionnaire’s bacteria reside in my car’s air conditioning system. Whenever I turn it on, a very sour dishcloth-like stench flows out.
I Googled the make and model of my car to see if others noticed this, and sure enough, there are.
My car is only 1 year old. According to Google, the smell comes from water that’s trapped in the a/c pipes. Took it to the dealer....they didn’t smell anything (of course not).
Same here. I’ve got a VW and have access to air return system before it passes over the coil by removing the cabin air filter. Figured it would not hurt to pull the cabin filter, turn on the ac to route the air over the coils and spray some Endbac or even Lysol into the system.
Thank you so much! Will give that a try.