“Washer fluid has the traits a potentially dangerous source of Legionella exposure needs,” Otto Schwake, a microbiology Ph.D. student at Arizona State University in Tempe and the study’s lead author, told Bloomberg. “It is aerosolized, heated and people are regularly exposed to it. The results from this study support previously demonstrated epidemiological evidence for a link between automobiles and Legionnaires’ disease."
Legionella bacteria can cause the disease when they are dispersed in the air and inhaled, and it got its named from an outbreak at a meeting of the American Legion in 1976. Most people exposed to the pathogen do not get infected, and it most commonly infects the elderly, smokers, and those with compromised immune systems.
The bacteria can be killed if the fluid is mixed with antifreeze. But Schwake said not enough research has been done to know if this is a good idea, since increased exposure to antifreeze, which can be harmful at certain levels, may cancel out any benefits of killing these microbes.
Source: popsci.com By Douglas Main