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Steam cleaner and water vacuum cleaner

is a steam cleaner or water vacuum cleaner dangerous for CF patients? Or can these devices be used without any problems in the household?
water vacuum cleaner as well as steam cleaner function on the basis of a water reservoir, which is filled with tap water. As humid germs, e.g. Pseudmonas aeruginosa and Burkhoderia cepacia, which live in the in water resp. humid areas can lead to infections in patients with CF, the question about a risk of infection via the usage of the above mentioned devices is elegible.
Profound investigations to answer this question do not exist, so that only general thoughts to weigh out the risk can be made. Infections with these germs take place especially via the contact, that means inhaling of germ-containing aerosols. Aerosols are little dropelts of fluid, which can occurr when snoozing, coughing, showering, etc. If an aerosol should represent a risk of infection, it has to be contaminated with the germ. Furthermore, the amount of germs in the droplets, the size of the droplets and the duration of the contact with the aerosol are important.
That via the tap water the also for CF relevant humid germs can come into the devices e.g. with increasing time of usage, can in the end not be excluded. If water stands still for a longer time, most humid germs are capable of multiplying strongly and to build up robust cell organisations, so-called biofilms. Regarding the water reservoirs and water pipes of the devices, a contamination even with consequent cleaning and drying can not be excluded for sure.
The technical function principle and the inclusion of the water reservoir are different in both devices. Water vacuum cleaner suck the dust with the air like normal vacuum cleaners, however do not collect the dust in a reservoir, but give it to a water reservoir, which should bind the dust particles. Hereby the water is swirled so that a fine aerosole develops, which can come partly also to the outside.
In case of steam cleaners, the water is heated in a kettle up to temperatures around 150°C, vaporizes and is released with pressure via the jets to the outside (aerosols). The outletting temperature does often correspond to the kettle temperature, can however be clearly lower. As in temperatures over 100°C bacteria are killed in general efficiently, it is unlikely if one adheres to high temperatures that germ-containing aerosoles occurr. If this can be excluded for sure in dependency of e.g. the type of the device or the degree of dirtyness, cannot be said clearly.
Conclusion: The risk of infection which arises from the usage of water vacuum cleaners or steam cleaners is hardly judgable on the basis of the current data. The risk of transmission of humid germs seems to be small in the case of the "high heated" steam cleaners, however can according to the opinion of the author not be excluded without doubt for both devices. In case patients with CF get colonized with humid germs like P. aeruginosa, the source of infection remains unclear in most cases. Therefore in the home environment rules of behaviour are recommended frequently, which should minimize the risk of infection.
Therefore it seems to be advisable, that CF patients abandon the usage of water vacuum cleaners or steam cleaners resp. assign it to other members of the family, which is possible without substantial restriction of the daily life.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. Michael Hogardt