Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory condition that infects about 6,000 Americans each year. How does this disease affect you as a building professional?

The pathogen thrives in cooling towers, which many operations professionals are responsible for.  More information on a recent outbreak at Disneyland is covered in a recent issue of Newsweek. “Cooling towers and Legionnaires’ go way back. The first ever cases of Legionnaires’—and the source of the disease’s name—came after bacteria in the ventilation system infected people at an American Legion in Philadelphia, the New York Times reported. New York’s major 2015 outbreak was also traced back to a hotel’s cooling towers; that outbreak led to new city-wide maintenance regulations. Cooling towers may also have been responsible for an outbreak in Portugal that killed seven people in 2014.”

There are ways to protect your facilities from this and other pathogens.

1. Regular Maintenance

Cooling towers continuously wash the air as they operate, and because of this they are constantly collecting debris. The first step in removing what has settled in the tower and thus keeping it as clean as possible is regular maintenance. This includes:

• Conducting ongoing inspections to identify any mechanical deficiencies;

• Repairing any mechanical issues a cooling tower may have — such as leaks and broken panels, fans, and infill — so it operates as designed;
• Ensuring drift eliminators are sufficient and functional; and

• Performing regular cooling tower cleanings.

2. Systematic Filtration

Even if regular maintenance of the cooling tower is happening, dust and debris will still enter and collect in the basin of the tower. Therefore, the cooling tower water must be filtered on a continuous basis to remove the debris at, or close to, the hypothetical rate of collection to impede build-up or accumulation. The specific goals of filtration include:

• Removing dust and debris that are pulled into the cooling tower;

• Capturing organic compounds and biological organisms; and

• Eliminating food and hiding places that foster bacterial development.

3. Water Treatment

Water treatment is also an essential component, and depends on the application and type of system, as well as the location. The process is specific to each building and the benefits include:

• Controlling scale formation;

• Governing pH levels of the system water;

• Reducing corrosion and fouling; and

• Avoiding biological contamination.

4. Continuous Monitoring

Finally, continuous automatic system monitoring and commissioning are necessary for both enhancing water quality and system performance. This process consists of:

• Deploying equipment and software dedicated solely to monitoring cooling-system water;

• Monitoring water quality and system efficiency;

• Alerting building personnel to a potential decline in water quality; and

• Providing historical records of water quality.

Information provided by The News https://www.achrnews.com/blogs/16-guest-blog/post/131004-four-steps-to-controlling-legionella-growth-in-cooling-towers 

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