Windshield Washer Fluid Can Harbor Deadly Bacteria

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Windshield washer fluid can harbor the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease, a deadly form of pneumonia.

When contaminated fluid is sprayed from a vehicle’s washer nozzles it’s released as fine mist. The microorganisms become airborne and are easily inhaled by people nearby.

An investigation of Arizona school buses revealed some surprising results. The study found that three-quarters of the vehicles tested in one district contained the bacteria. When the tainted fluid was sprayed it could be contracted and lead to the spread of Legionnaires’ disease.

Beyond washer nozzles, naturally occurring Legionella bacteria can be found in places like hot tubs, air conditioners and showers. The little critters love water and are transmitted via mist or vapor. Fortunately they cannot jump from person to person.

As with other diseases, smokers, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk, though most of the people exposed to it do not get sick.

[Source: Automotive News]

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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