Many professional buildings and facilities rely on cooling towers and condensers to keep their location adequately cool and in proper working order.
This means that cooling tower maintenance is a must—not only because keeping a cooling tower in good condition reduces cost and expenses over the long term, but also because it keeps those who live and work in the area safe and healthy.
Part of regular maintenance on a cooling tower is consistent Legionella inspections; in order to understand how and why these inspections take place, you must first become acquainted with the many bacteria that can grow in your tower.
Why Are Legionella Inspections Required?
Legionella inspections are required because legionellosis, or disease caused by Legionella-type bacteria, is on the rise. The number of cases roughly quadrupled over the course of approximately 15 years, and the CDC’s data indicates that cooling towers had a significant part to play in this phenomenon.
These pieces of machinery are ideal breeding grounds for Legionella, a type of gram-negative bacteria that particularly enjoys life in tepid freshwater, which is the same type used in cooling towers.
If Legionella begins to proliferate in the water that feeds a cooling tower, the tower’s regular operations that create mist and evaporation can propel water droplets infected with the bacteria into the air.
In fact, due to the ubiquitous use of cooling towers and their common location within bustling urban zones, a contaminated cooling tower can end up spreading Legionella-infected water for miles in a radius around the building.
When Legionella comes into contact with humans’ mucous membranes, such as the eyes and mouth, it can enter the body and cause illness.
While Pontiac fever is a type of legionellosis that is rarely fatal, the more serious Legionnaires’ disease can cause sudden and severe lung inflammation that causes the deaths of nearly 10% of the individuals who contract it. In order to prevent this public health risk, Legionella inspections are required.
How Often Can I Expect Legionella Inspections?
In general, inspections specifically to ascertain the presence of Legionella are required at least once every 90 days. In addition, the facility’s cooling tower(s) must be registered with the state, and a separate inspection must be conducted upon startup for the year, regardless of how recently the last Legionella inspection occurred.
In addition to specific Legionella inspections every three months as mandated by the state, general bacteriological sampling should be performed every 30 days, though it may be reported in intervals of 90 days.
For the best results, it is safest and easiest to test for Legionella every 30 days and keep up consistent reporting to ensure that your facility is within compliance requirements. If you are found not to be compliant, you will likely receive a fine.
What Goes Into a Legionella Inspection?
A Legionella inspection is a comprehensive process that must be completed by an expert that has experience in cooling towers and legionella. Dip slides or heterotrophic plate counts are the standard means of checking bacteria in cooling towers.
Legionella Expert Tests Water
A skilled Legionella expert will have robust relationships with local labs and can even send your water samples to a dedicated laboratory that will determine exactly what strains of this bacteria you have. This can prove invaluable when developing a water treatment and risk mitigation plan for your facility so that you know exactly which treatments and chemicals will be useful for you.
Report Water Sample Data To City
The final part of a Legionella inspection is compiling the information gathered during the inspection and reporting it to the city or state.
This usually can be done on-line at the local or state department of health You are required to notify these authorities within 24 hours if you receive a Legionella inspection testing result in excess of 1000 CFU (colony forming units) per milliliter of test water.
However, you should make prompt reporting a habit regardless of the results so that you do not lapse in compliance.
Work with the Water Treatment Experts for Legionella Compliance
Whether you suspect that you have Legionella in your water system or you would like to develop a relationship with a robust and comprehensive testing company, be sure to work with professionals who specialize in water treatment and Legionella.
The technicians at Tower Water would be happy to help you with your Legionella inspection requirements and evaluate your system for its unique risks and vulnerabilities. Reach out to schedule an appointment with a professional so that you can remain in compliance.