Manual faucets induce more biofilms than electronic faucets

Can J Microbiol. 2013 Jun;59(6):407-12. doi: 10.1139/cjm-2013-0131. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


Electronic faucets (types E1 and E2) and manual (M) faucets were studied for microbial quality, i.e., biomass and pathogenic microbes of biofilms in the faucet aerator, the water, and the outer surface of faucet in a hospital in Finland. Heterotrophic plate count content reflecting culturable microbial biomass and adenosine triphosphate content representing viable microbial biomass were smaller in the biofilms of E1-type electronic faucets than E2-type electronic faucets or M faucets. The likely explanation is the mixing point of cold and hot water (E1 and M: in the faucet; E2: in a separate box 50 cm before the actual faucet part). The highest amounts of Legionella (serogroups 2-15 of Legionella pneumophila) in a water sample (5000 cfu/L) and in biofilm samples (May-June 2008 sampling: 240 cfu/mL; November 2008: 1100 cfu/mL) were found in one E1-type faucet, which was lacking a back pressure valve due to faulty installation. This study reveals that certain types of electronic faucets seem to promote hospital hygiene, as they were associated with less microbial growth in biofilms in the faucet aerator, than some other types of electronic faucets or manual faucets, likely owing to the mixing point of cold and hot water. However, the faucet type had no direct effect on the presence of Legionella spp. Also correct installation is crucial.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacterial Load
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Biomass
  • Drinking Water / microbiology*
  • Electronics
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Finland
  • Hospitals, University
  • Legionella / growth & development*
  • Legionella pneumophila / growth & development
  • Sanitary Engineering
  • Water Microbiology


  • Drinking Water