Cooling towers serve a variety of critical roles in facilities across America, but they also come with risks as part of their operation.
Their main role of providing comprehensive heat exchange via quick and efficient cooling means that they rely heavily on water, and water constantly coursing through a large system can become dirty or contaminated.
Unclean water may pose a public health and safety risk if not addressed, which is why regulations exist and why cooling towers must remain in compliance.
Legionella Compliance: What It Means
Legionella compliance is the process of managing a cooling tower to ensure that it meets all local and state regulations regarding the presence of a specific bacteria called Legionella. While bacteria and biofilms of all types can grow in cooling towers over time, Legionella is of particular concern because it can cause severe illness or even death in humans who are exposed.
Legionella compliance involves more than simply being aware of Legionella. It requires a consistent and comprehensive strategy, and in order to achieve this, many facilities rely on the expertise of dedicated Legionella compliance and water treatment professionals.
Why Legionella Compliance Is Important for Every Cooling Tower
Every cooling tower must remain in compliance with the regulations surrounding Legionella bacteria that the local and state governments have mandated. Failure to comply with these stipulations typically results in a fine.
The concepts of compliance and abiding by regulations for acceptable levels of bacteria in a cooling tower’s water are not limited to a “set it and forget it” strategy for water treatment; Legionella requires active management and a comprehensive strategy that considers the unique aspects and risks of each individual cooling tower.
Towers in particular are at high risk because Legionella bacteria thrive in freshwater between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit—the range at which many cooling towers operate for a large amount of time.
A facility that keeps Legionella compliance low on the list of priorities can quickly see an outbreak of the bacteria, where it proliferates and spreads throughout the water system.
Because cooling towers function by creating vapor or mist as a result of their evaporative processes to dissipate heat, the Legionella bacteria easily become airborne on water droplets and can spread over a vast area surrounding the tower.
Once the contaminated water droplets come into contact with humans’ mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and throat, they can cause Pontiac fever or even the bacteria’s namesake Legionnaires’ disease.
While Pontiac fever is a flu-like illness that is primarily only dangerous in the same demographics for whom the seasonal flu may pose a risk, Legionnaires’ disease causes serious and sudden lung inflammation that can be fatal in as many as 10% of people who contract it.
Aspects of Compliance and Maintenance
Legionella compliance for cooling towers can take a variety of forms depending upon the particular risk factors and setups of each facility. The water system should be monitored regularly and the water treated with chemicals or other agents that specifically address that tower’s low flow areas.
It is also important that all cooling towers are registered with the state so that, if an outbreak does occur, it can be quickly and successfully traced to the appropriate tower before people in the surrounding area become dangerously ill.
Regular preventative maintenance to the tower is another important aspect of compliance and cooling tower safety.
While each tower’s maintenance schedule will differ slightly, a robust plan includes regular water sampling as well as consistent repair of the tower’s equipment, including fans, filters and bearings. The inside surfaces of the tower should be manually cleaned from time to time to prevent the buildup of sludge.
Maintaining a cooling tower can be hard work, which is why many individuals opt to rely on water treatment and cooling tower maintenance experts instead.
They have not only the tools and equipment needed to comprehensively clean and maintain a tower but also personal protective equipment and knowledge that keeps them safe from potential Legionella exposure during the process.
Work with Legionella Prevention Professionals
Whether you are just beginning to establish a regular Legionella prevention plan or you need an expert to assist with your consistent maintenance schedule, it is important that you work with professionals who are experienced with Legionella prevention and compliance.
The technicians at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and would be happy to assist with long-term Legionella prevention, guiding you toward continual compliance with your local and state regulations so that you can focus on other important tasks. Reach out to schedule a consultation with the Legionella compliance experts at Tower Water today.