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Tips to Avoid Legionnaires’ Disease

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About Legionnaires’ Disease

With summer coming, it is prudent to keep Legionnaires’ Disease in mind. Legionella is a naturally- occurring aquatic bacteria that is not a problem until it becomes amplified in man-made water systems. It does best in warm, stagnant water or water that does not have enough disinfectant. Most outbreaks occur in buildings with large water systems such as hot tubs, cold/hot water tanks and heaters, large plumbing systems, cooling towers, and fountains. If a person breathes in droplets of aerosolized and contaminated water, they can contract Legionnaires’ Disease; it does not spread person-to-person.

Legionnaires’ Disease in the Covid-19 World

With the Covid-19 pandemic competing for attention, there are even more reasons to be diligent. As buildings or sections that have been closed or under-utilized are re-opened, the possibility of Legionella having been growing in unused plumbing is increased. Hospitals dealing with a surge in Covid-19 cases are already at a higher risk for Legionella growth due to specialized equipment being used such as respirators, CPAP machines, bronchoscopes, and hydrotherapy equipment. And not least of all, doctors need to be vigilant since the two infections can present with the same symptoms.

Building owners and managers must stay focused to keep Legionnaires’ Disease at bay—in 2018 there were more than 3 cases per 100,000 in the U.S. and the mortality rate is approximately 10%. Cases are under diagnosed: it is estimated that the true number is more than 50,000 per year.

Tip #1 – Develop a Water Management Program

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) released a revised standard in 2018 called Standard 188, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems to help prevent Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks. While voluntary in general, this standard has been adopted by a few government systems throughout the U.S. Read our blog post to learn more about Standard 188.

Be proactive: Take Steps to Avoid a Legionella Outbreak in Your Building

Tip #2 – Consult with RPF Environmental

RPF Environmental has been working with customers since 1991 to develop environmental health and safety plans for Legionella and other safety hazards. We can perform an environmental assessment to analyze where the bacteria may grow and spread, make recommendations for baseline and proactive testing, and help you develop a Water Management Plan. If you already suspect there is Legionella in your water system, we can help with outbreak testing.

Learn more about Legionella Assessments HERE

Call us at 603-942-5432 today to find out how we can support your industrial hygiene control program.

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