Whether you are simply installing a new air conditioning system or are responsible for the safety and function of an entire facility’s cooling and heating machinery, it is important that you remain aware of the state of your water system. This includes conducting regular Legionella risk assessments so that any dangerous bacteria can be handled early on, before it has a chance to proliferate and become a threat to humans.
Being Proactive Against Legionella
Legionella is a gram-negative bacteria that thrives in freshwater. Most often, it grows quickly in water between 77 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. This dangerous microorganism can cause illness or even death in humans via a variety of diseases, the most common of which is Pontiac fever. Those affected by Pontiac fever develop chills, muscle aches, nausea, and loss of appetite similar to the standard flu. However, those who fall ill with the bacteria’s namesake Legionnaires’ disease should seek medical attention immediately; this potentially fatal sickness causes severe pneumonia and can quickly compromise a person’s breathing. Because Legionella can be so dangerous, and because it can thrive in water used for heating and cooling applications, remaining proactive about preventing its spread is critical for any facility.
What Are the Steps of a Legionella Risk Assessment?
A Legionella risk assessment is a valuable tool that can provide insight into the specific dangerous present in your system that could lead to Legionella. Since each water system is different, undergoing a risk assessment alongside a skilled water treatment expert is wise so that you can ensure you have considered all the possibilities. Some of the steps included in a thorough Legionella risk assessment include the following.
Identify the Hazards
The first step in a Legionella risk assessment is to identify the hazards within your system. This may include taking note of recent repairs or areas of disrepair in the system where the water quality may have been compromised by external material. It also includes taking the water temperature and locating dead legs where water does not regularly flow; these factors can contribute to a thriving Legionella population.
Consider Who Is in Danger
Legionella is a risk to human health, and it is crucial that you evaluate who may be at risk from your water system. Legionella spreads to humans via water vapor that has been aerosolized into the air; if you operate hot tubs that are too cool or cooling towers that are near areas where people walk or spend time, you may be introducing Legionella into the air by using your machinery. Determining the areas where the most people may be affected can help you plan which locations to focus on first.
Implement Control Measures
Once you understand the risks within your system, you must begin to add control measures that will work for you to keep Legionella at bay. Be sure to regularly monitor your water temperature and implement regular inspections and maintenance so that your system remains in good repair. This will help you to catch any instances of Legionella proliferation early, when they are easily dealt with.
Keep Detailed Records
You must also be sure to keep detailed records regarding your water system, including dates of repairs and maintenance as well as the findings from previous risk assessments. Creating this paper trail offers a valuable resource when you have questions about the state of the system, and it can also prove critical in cases of liability.
Review and Modify the Assessment If Needed
Based upon the results of your risk assessment, you may need to modify your approach to your water system. If changes occur on your property, such as additions or repairs, it is also important that you review your assessments to ensure that these new features have not compromised the safe operation of your machinery. If new guidance about Legionella is published or you have reason to believe that someone has been exposed to the bacteria, be sure to review your practices and make any necessary changes. A skilled Legionella expert can assist you with the entire process from beginning to end so that you can worry less about bacteria in your water and more about the success and proper functioning of your facility or property.
Contact the Legionella Experts
Whether you are conducting your regularly scheduled Legionella risk assessment or you would like to start the process for the first time, working with an experienced Legionella professional will ensure that your assessment is comprehensive and of high quality. Tower Water would be happy to help you navigate this process so that you can keep your water system safe and functioning efficiently for years to come.