Tackling the clear and present danger of Legionella

It’s a legal requirement to manage Legionella risks and apply the right water treatment strategies to water systems.


Legionnaires' disease outbreaks are thankfully rare but when they strike, the consequences can be tragic. Instances almost invariably hit the headlines. One of the most serious was the August 2015 outbreak at an Illinois veteran home that claimed at least 32 lives.

Legionella is a waterborne bacteria that can grow in engineered water systems such as cooling towers, condensers, hot and cold water systems, and spa pools. Inhalation of the bacteria can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires' disease.

Protecting against a Legionnaires' disease outbreak, is a legal requirement for organizations, which must put in place measures to indemnify and manage this risk as part of their water treatment strategy. Sites should pay particular attention to ASHRAE Standard 188: Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.

Is your site at risk?

Awareness is the first step in preventing Legionnaires' disease so it's vital to recognize the potential risks. Systems that process water at 68° to 113°F, like showers, are particularly susceptible to infection. Hot and cold water systems—including cold water tanks, hot water storage tanks, faucets, and other hot and cold water outlets—also present a risk. It's essential that such systems are maintained correctly. Because water may stand and stagnate in showerheads and pipework, the risk for Legionella growth is increased and Legionnaires' disease can pose a significant threat.

Do you have the right expertise?

Anyone in charge of such systems is required to understand the risk of Legionella, how it is transmitted, how to manage and assess the risk, and how to apply the relevant legislation. Legionella awareness must be a high priority for anyone responsible for their organization's training program—the risks of not taking action are too great to ignore.

-This article was originally published in Spirax Sarco SteamNews Magazine. Spirax Sarco is a CFE Media content partner.

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