Risks occurring by Biofilmformation in man-made water systems

The development of alternative testing and or monitoring methods to assess the microbiological quality of process water in man-made water systems.

Microbial biofilms are the primary habitat in which micro-organisms live. These biofilms contain bacteria, fungi, protozoa, archaea and viruses, are irreversibly attached to a substrate or to each other and are embedded in self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances. These biofilms can be found in, on and around our body and can do both good and bad. Each biofilm is unique and niche dependent. From the biofilms in our gut, helping us digest our food and controlling the brain-gut axis to the dental plaque on our teeth controlling your blood pressure.

Otherwise the same dental plaque can cause caries and periodontitis and is associated with an array of diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease. Outside the body, biofilms can be found on any surface. The walls around you and the ceiling above, the shower curtain and the drain of your sink, they literally are everywhere!

Biofilms can be found in all man-made water systems including medical devices. Adherence to Prevention and Infection Control protocols is of the utmost importance to prevent infection of vulnerable patients with the pathogens (for example Legionella pneumophila or Klebsiella pneumonia) residing in these biofilm. This infection can either occur by direct contact or by inhalation of aerosols and could cause (soft-) tissue infections or airway infections such as pneumonia and even Legionnaires’ Disease.

The main aim to prevent these infections should be to prevent biofilm formation in these man-made systems and if this is not feasible the biofilm growth should be controlled. This control can only be performed when the microbial growth and presence can be monitored. Current monitoring is mainly based on classic culturing techniques in combination with molecular biological or the measurement of ATP.

In this Smart Solutions theme, variations on these Biofilm prevention and control measures including their monitoring techniques can be studied in more detail. Additionally Risk assessment and evaluations can be performed on the specific chosen niche

This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):