Legionella is not a pollutant
A US court has recently decided that Legionella is not a pollutant and therefore general liability insurance policies cover risks arising from Legionella liabilities.
Insurance policies include exclusion clauses which reduce their liabilities. Pollutants are one of these “get out” clauses. A US court in Louisiana has now decided that bacteria Legionella and Pseudomonas cannot be defined legally as pollutants like asbestos, lead paint, gasoline or carbon monoxide. It has been deemed that there is a clear distinction between the two categories.
In practice this means that Legionella claims might be settled more easily.
In a tangential issue, CDC was criticised earlier this year for addressing Legionella as a medical issue rather than an environmental issue. The medical approach, which is appropriate for person to person transmitted disease, stalls action until a case of Legionnaires disease occurred, whereas Legionnaires Disease is an environmentally transmitted disease and therefore cannot be controlled by monitoring diseased people. For diseases of environmental origin proactive environmental surveillance, rather than reactive disease surveillance, is the appropriate prevention strategy – as explained in our blog of 8th August 2014.
The conclusion is that Legionella is an environmental issue, but not a pollutant. We think this is the correct conclusion.