Ever driven behind a car that has a bad exhaust pipe? One minute you are enjoying clean air and the next you are breathing in toxic fumes, thanks to the inconsiderate driver in front of you. In instances like these we know our air in the car is polluted and that inhaling those fumes for long periods of time can make us sick. What if though there were other unnoticeable toxins polluting the air inside our cars that could give us pneumonia? Would you be surprised to learn there is?
According to a research study presented at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting, our car windshield washer fluid could potentially give us Legionnaires disease, a severe form of pneumonia. The study tested the windshield washer fluid in school buses in the central Arizona school district and found that 75% percent of the fluid samples contained legionella bacteria. The research further showed proof of the bacteria surviving in the fluid for up to 14 months.
When bus drivers spray the bus windshield with the washer fluid, they are exposing themselves to the fumes laced with legionella bacteria. Exposure to the fumes over a course of 14 months likens the odds of developing pneumonia or Pontiac fever. Bus drivers are obviously not the only ones at risk. School children with developing lungs are at risk along with just about anyone who drives an automobile.
What then can we do to protect ourselves?
Unfortunately there is no way to protect ourselves from exposure but we need not worry too much either. Most people who are exposed to legionella bacteria do not get sick. For those that do come down with a high fever, chills, and cough should seek medical treatment. If found to be the legionnaires disease, there is medicine available to cure the illness. The health experts warn though to visit a doctor right away especially if experiencing a high fever over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If not treated right away, the Legionnella disease can be fatal particularly in people whose immune system is compromised prior to getting the disease such as the elderly and cancer patients.