Anyone responsible for the operation or management of a cooling tower or facility with an HVAC system should conduct regular risk assessments to ensure that the system is functioning safely and efficiently. Part of a robust risk assessment is a Legionella prevention plan that is customized to suit the individual facility’s needs. Without a comprehensive prevention plan, Legionella may soon become a danger to those who visit or spend time in the building.
What Is Legionella?
Legionella is a gram-negative bacteria that is found in freshwater. Humans typically come into contact with Legionella bacteria when the organisms have been carried through the air in vapor, mist, or aerosolized water, which is a common occurrence in the operation of cooling towers and other machinery with water lines. The vapor that comes in contact with humans’ mucous membranes predominately inhaled in the lungs can transfer Legionella bacteria to people, who may fall ill as a result.
Legionella can cause a number of diseases, the most common of which is Pontiac fever. Presenting similarly to the flu, Pontiac fever is generally mild and involves muscle aches, chills, fever, headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite but resolves on its own. The much more dangerous sickness brought about by Legionella is its namesake, Legionnaires’ disease. This potentially fatal illness causes severe lung inflammation like pneumonia, which can occur suddenly and without warning. As many as one in ten who contract Legionnaires’ disease may die from it. This is why developing a robust Legionella prevention plan is critical.
Managing Legionella Risk Through A Prevention Plan
A Legionella prevention plan can assist businesses and facilities with the regular management of their water and cooling towers so that this potentially dangerous bacteria never has the ability to proliferate. A thorough prevention plan will require both an in-depth review of the system as well as regular maintenance to ensure that equipment remains in proper working condition.
One of the most important steps in the prevention of Legionella is regular maintenance. A cooling tower that has degraded or is no longer functioning properly is more difficult to treat because Legionella bacteria can find safety in the rust, scaling, and corrosion of a worn-down piece of equipment. Dead legs, where water rarely flows, should also be noted, and any water treatment should be done regularly should ensure that no biofilms exist and other elements of the water do not contribute to Legionella growth.
The CDC offers a simple checklist that is able to identify at-risk buildings, and this should be completed and cataloged alongside any documentation related to the current strategy for treating and preventing Legionella. Having this information in one place enables quick and effective changes to be made if needed and provides a thorough history of the practices a facility is currently relying on.
Strategies For Disruption
One important aspect of a comprehensive Legionella prevention plan is a strategy for what to do if Legionella is found in the water system. A plan that details how to efficiently and quickly remediate this bacteria is critical for the health and wellbeing of the community. This plan should also include the means of notifying any affected parties if significant renovation or a disruption in the system such as a water pipe repair is conducted; any contact between the water system and the outside can expose previously low-risk facilities to the introduction of Legionella bacteria due to external factors.
Regulation And Inspection
Some local governments have created regulations dictating how often a facility must be inspected for Legionella and what criteria are required for a passing score. Undergoing inspection regularly, even at intervals at least as frequent as what is required by the government, can help to ensure that Legionella never finds a foothold in your facility.
Work With The Experienced Legionella Prevention Experts
Whether you are developing a Legionella prevention plan for the first time or you would like to refine and strengthen your current Legionella prevention strategy, it is best to work with skilled experts who have experience in crafting comprehensive Legionella prevention plans. The professionals at Tower Water have years of experience in conquering Legionella before it becomes an issue. Reach out to schedule an appointment with an expert who can review the unique features of your facility’s water system. TW can provide personalized recommendations for Legionella prevention so that your building remains safe from this dangerous bacteria. Reach out to schedule an appointment to discuss your current Legionella plans and develop a comprehensive strategy before Legionella arises in your system.