Ice Machines Identified as Source of Infectious Bacteria
Ice machines, commonly used in hospitals, clinics, restaurants and hotels, pose health risks. A series of scientific studies identified ice machines as a source of waterborne bacteria such as Legionella and Pseudomonas (causative bacteria for Legionnaires Disease and Pneumonia, respectively.)
More than twenty years ago, a Legionnaire’s outbreak in a 720 bed university teaching hospital was initiated by unfiltered water entering an ice machine. Nosocomial legionellosis traced to a contaminated ice machine. Graman PS, Quinlan GA, Rank JA. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 1997 Sep;18(9):637-40.
Various Bacteria Can Lead to Illnesses
Since then, additional research has identified a variety of bacterial strains, all of which can lead to respiratory illnesses, some of which are fatal. Research described in the American Journal of Infection Control noted the variety of bacterial threats. A cold hard menace: A contaminated ice machine as a potential source for transmission of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii. Kanwar A, Domitrovic TN, Koganti S, Fuldauer P, Cadnum JL, Bonomo RA, Donskey CJ. Am J Infect Control. 2017 Nov 1;45(11):1273-1275. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2017.05.007. Epub 2017 Jun 15.
Who is at Risk?
Of particular concern are high-risk immunocompromised adults, neonates and the elderly. Management of Risks From Water and Ice From Ice Machines for the Very Immunocompromised Host: A Process Improvement Project Prompted by an Outbreak of Rapidly Growing Mycobacteria on a Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (Hsct) Unit. Guspiel A, Menk J, Streifel A, Messinger K, Wagner J, Ferrieri P, Kline S. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2017 Jul;38(7):792-800. doi: 10.1017/ice.2017.73. Epub 2017 May 23.
Do Activated Carbon (AC) Filters Work in Ice Machines?
A method once thought to be effective in preventing microbial outbreaks initiated by water used in ice machines is carbon. Carbon filtering is a method of filtering that uses a bed of activated carbon (AC) to remove impurities and odors from a fluid using adsorption.
However, recent studies confirm that activated carbon is not effective in removing potentially harmful bacteria from water and water vapor. A study in the Journal of Environmental Health concluded: “Ice machines equipped with AC filters pose a serious risk factor for ice contamination. New filter-use guidelines and regulations on bacterial detection limits to prevent contamination of ice in healthcare facilities are necessary.” Microbial Contamination of Ice Machines Is Mediated by Activated Charcoal Filtration Systems in a City Hospital. Yorioka K, Oie S, Hayashi K, Kimoto H, Furukawa H. J Environ Health. 2016 Jun;78(10):32-5.
Solutions from AquaMedix
AquaMedix InLine Filters trap bacteria as small as 0.20 microns, preventing bacterial migration into the ice machine apparatus. InLine Filters are an effective tool to prevent bacterial contamination of water flowing into ice machines. As a result, ice and water vapor generated by ice machines are free of potentially harmful disease-causing bacteria.
By trapping bacteria in a sealed filter, water is protected. Potential disease-causing bacteria do not end up in ice or water vapor that may emit from an ice machine.
A complete line of InLine Filters for use with ice machines can be found at: