Legionella bacterium is a unicellular microorganism that causes infections and diseases in both humans and animals. In humans, these bacteria cause the pneumonia-type Legionnaires’ disease as well as a more mild flu-like illness known as Pontiac fever. This bacteria, and a host of others, give building managers much cause for concern, however, facility Legionella testing helps them keep buildings safe.
Understanding the Threat of Legionella
Legionnaires’ disease affects the respiratory system of those infected with the Legionella bacteria. Before the threat becomes a reality, facility Legionella testing by an accredited environmental lab discovers the bacteria at its source. This includes building water systems such as hot water heaters and tanks, sink faucets, plumbing systems, and cooling towers.
A person contracts Legionnaires’ illness through contact with water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. A hot tub, shower, faucet, or even fountains and water features present risk. Additionally, bacteria disperse throughout buildings in the mist produced by cooling towers. The microorganisms spread into the lungs through drinking and the inhalation of minute droplets of water.
Mild and Severe Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease
Legionnaires disease is a form of atypical pneumonia. Mild symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath
Severe cases include the following symptoms:
Facility Legionella Testing to Stop the Spread
When Legionella has multiplied and grown in a building’s water system, the water it is in can disperse in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People who breathe in tiny droplets of water in the air that carry the bacteria may develop Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever. The risk of the disease increases for those 50 years and older as well as for smokers. Risks exist for those with chronic lung disease and cancer as well as people with underlying illnesses such as diabetes. Facility Legionella testing is a key step in prevention.
WTI Lab Facility Legionella Testing
ASHRAE sets the standards for maintaining healthy water systems in buildings to minimize Legionella bacteria. As a CDC Elite laboratory, the lab at WTI | Pure Air Control Services helps buildings meet these standards with routine testing and reporting. The CDC offers an Environmental Legionella Isolation Techniques Evaluation Program whereby laboratories evaluate their Legionella isolation methods using standardized samples. Participating labs conduct the tests, process the samples, and report the findings. A certificate of competency recognizes the lab’s identification of Legionella in two consecutive panels.
The lab also tests a range of environmental samples using cutting-edge technology. Understanding the environment’s quality from where the samples were taken is made easier by the results. The lab at WTI tops the list of environmental laboratories worldwide due to its combination of skilled personnel and its range of analytical tools.
Preventing Legionnaires’ Disease
The best prevention against Legionnaires’ illness is to stop the bacteria’s spread in building water and air systems. In addition to facility Legionella testing, any approach to lower HVAC Legionella risk should incorporate an assessment, management plan, and education on the dangers and prevention of the illness.
A qualified examination of the water and air systems of a building aids in identifying factors that promote the growth of the Legionella bacteria. Based on the evaluation, a management strategy for dealing with water-borne diseases comes next. A good plan identifies bacteria-causing circumstances. Remediation and education by facility management and external contractors follow. Legionella and other dangerous bacteria must be tested by environmental lab testing and analysis on a regular basis.
Elements of Design, Construction, and Maintenance to Prevent Outbreaks
Reduction of the likelihood of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak is critical to keeping occupants safe. Therefore, the design, construction, and maintenance of water systems and air distribution systems are important. Good facilities managers take steps to minimize HVAC Legionella contamination while enhancing the indoor air quality of the facility via air distribution systems and cooling towers.
Besides facility Legionella testing, other ways managers prevent Legionella is adding a water treatment service plan for cooling towers. As well, environmental cleaning of cooling towers prevents bacteria from forming and stops corrosion too. Removing unused piping that collects stagnant water is a good step as is routine checking of pH levels and total bacteria count of cooling water.
Learn More About Facility Legionella Testing
Facilities managers need to educate themselves on the illness as well as how the Legionella bacteria travel through HVAC systems. For more information on how WTI | Pure Air Control Services helps building managers undertake facility Legionella testing, contact us today at 1-800-422-7873 or email us here.