Legionella is a genus of pathogenic bacteria found worldwide in aquatic environments such as rivers and ponds, which includes the species Legionella pneumophila. This bacterium readily colonizes man-made water systems, including municipal water supplies, cooling towers and irrigation systems. L. pneumophila naturally infects amoebae and other protozoa living in the water.
When water droplets containing infected protozoa are inhaled, the bacterium is capable of infecting the human lung. That is why Legionella in water can trigger the onset of Legionnaires’ disease, or Legionellosis, a severe and often fatal type of pneumonia. Each year, 18,000 to 20,000 cases of Legionellosis occur in the U.S. Of these, 10%-30% are fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Virtually any type of commercial or domestic water system can harbor Legionella. Cooling towers, drinking water systems, hot tubs, evaporative condensers and decorative fountains are common places for the bacteria to be transmitted to humans through airborne particles — i.e., inhaling or aspirating contaminated droplets from water systems that have not been properly cleaned and disinfected. There is no vaccine for Legionnaires’ disease.
How can you protect the health of your employees, guests and patients? How do you avoid the cost to resolve a case of Legionnaires’ disease, which can exceed $250K? The key is prevention, and the key to preventing infection is to keep Legionella bacteria out of your water system.
What is Standard 188-2015?
If you are responsible for the water system in a new or existing building, then you will be held accountable for safeguarding potable and utility water systems (cooling towers and evaporative condensers, fountains, spas, air coolers, humidifiers and washers). Standard 188-2015 is a guidance developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), to assist in this process.
ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 was adopted in 2015 and provides uniform prevention practices for Legionella bacteria in water systems. Included is guidance for implementing a Water Management Program (WMP) for potable and non-potable water systems in specific types of building systems, including health care facilities, nursing homes, multiple housing units and buildings with more than 10 stories. Its compliance is enforced by agencies such as OSHA and The Joint Commission.
Assessing Your Water
Developing a Program Team is the first step in assessing the risk of contracting Legionella in your facility. The team usually consists of facilities, management, a water professional and, if applicable, the infectious control staff. A survey and flow diagram of the systems are developed, and then evaluation and analysis are performed to determine where control measures apply. Once control measures are applied, the monitoring and corrective actions confirmation piece follows, with validation and documentation as the final steps.
What Are The Benefits Of Compliance?
There are many reasons it makes sense to comply fully with ASHRAE Standard 188-2015. Here are some of the major benefits of following an ASHRAE 188 water management plan:
- Protect the health of building occupants and visitors.
- Prevent costly litigation (the cost to resolve a single case of Legionnaires’ disease can exceed $250K).
- Protect cooling tower and water system infrastructure and equipment — a big part of Legionella prevention includes keeping the system clean of the sludge and debris where these bacteria congregate; this also helps prevent corrosion and extend equipment life.
- Maintain good water quality and proper pH.
- Improve system efficiency — a clean system will also perform better and save energy.
How Earthwise Environmental Can Help
Standard 188-2015 is not only complex, but it does not contain all the necessary details for effective prevention, disinfection and control of Legionella. That’s why you need the expertise of the CWT trained professionals at Earthwise Environmental, a leader in the prevention of Legionnaires’ disease and experts in legionella water testing.
We work closely with you to design and implement a compliant legionella water treatment program for the control of the Legionella pathogen. We perform a complete mechanical and system evaluation of your plant operations — from sampling to data analysis — to determine the best fit of technology, products and services for your system.
Whether your ideal Legionella treatment solution involves a chemical-free approach, traditional chemical treatment for legionella, Mixed Oxidant Solution (MOS) or a biocide, we help you select the perfect product. And if a chemical approach is decided, we work closely with chemical manufacturers to determine the custom blend that best meets your treatment needs.
Let Earthwise Environmental Full Water Solutions help you create and manage the Water Management Plan that will protect your people and profits today. Simply fill out our Contact Us form.
Keep Your Water Safe