New York, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that 12 people had died of Legionnaires’ disease and 114 affected in the South Bronx since the outbreak began on July 10.
Potential risks and preventative measures of water systems such as potable water systems (including water faucets, shower station, emergency eye wash, etc.), cooling towers, HVAC systems, water spas, hot tubs, swimming pools, water fountains and other water aerosolization devices like humidifiers, misters, etc. are identified as crucial environmental sources for Legionella. Legionella are Gram negative, environmental bacteria which can survive both in fresh as well as marine water with a wide temperature range (20°C – 63° or more) and pH (2.7 – 8.3).
One of the city’s top health officials, Dr. Jay Varma, has warned that while he is confident that the source of the infection had been neutralized, some of those who were exposed might not yet be showing symptoms and more cases could be diagnosed in the next few days. The source of the outbreak was likely one or more of the five air conditioning cooling towers on South Bronx buildings that were inspected and found to contain harmful bacteria.
Dr. Rajiv Sahay, director of laboratory services at Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) a CDC ELITE lab stated that our “we look forward to continuing to work with many facilities staff in helping them build a strong proactive Legionella program in their facilities.” Dr. Sahay further stated that “as a result of our CDC ELITE credentials our clients are assured of highest accuracy scientifically and legally defensible data available.”
According to Building Operating Management magazine, expert Victor Yu, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; Chief, Infectious Disease Section, VA Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA disclosed that “Up to 70% of all buildings greater than three stories in the US may be contaminated with legionella.”
Francisco Aguirre, Director of Building Sciences at Pure Air Control Services stated “legionella bacteria is found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in cooling towers, hot water tanks, misters, atomizers, plumbing systems, HVAC systems, potable water or decorative fountains and hot tubs.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2011, Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise, increasing by 217 percent in the last decade – or 18,000 to 20,000 cases annually in the United States. However, many infections are not diagnosed or reported, so this number may be higher. More illness is usually found in the summer and early fall, but it can happen any time of year. Legionnaires’ disease can be very serious and can cause death in up to 5% to 30% of cases or 2400 to 5400 people will die each year as many as 16 deaths each day. In December, a Texas newborn, who was water birthed, developed Legionnaires’ disease and passed after being exposed to the bacteria.
The long awaited ANSI/ASHRAE Legionella standard 188-2015 entitled:Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems, has finally been adopted 5 years after it was first released.
The standard is intended for use by owners and managers of human-occupied buildings and those involved in the design, construction, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and service of centralized building water systems and components. Facility managers are charged with conducting an annual survey to determine what risk is present in their buildings. Specific risk factors called out in the standard include:
EDLab – Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory
- Multiple housing units with one or more centralized water heaters
- More than 10 stories (including levels below grade)
- Healthcare facility where patient care exceeds 24 hours
- Cooling tower or evaporative condenser
- One or more whirlpools or spas within or adjacent to building
- Devices that release aerosols (e.g., ornamental fountains, misters, air washers or humidifiers, cooling towers)
- Incoming potable water containing less than 0.5 ppm residual halogen such as chlorine
- Inpatient health care facility
- Occupants primarily older than age 65
- Occupants receiving chemotherapy for cancer or bone marrow transplantation
Dr. Sahay with EDLab will be providing free Legionella webinars in the near future open to the public entitled: Legionella: Prevention, Detection & Diagnostics. Stay tuned for dates and times.
A way to help combat the lethal bacteria and other pathogens born in both cooling towers and evaporator coils is with super heated steam at 350 degrees called PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning process, the only certified green (NO Chemicals) cleaning process in the US. For more information on developing a proactive Legionella remediation program utilizing the PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning process contact Jeff Nack or Alan Wozniak at 1-800-422-7873.
For more information on developing a proactive Legionella testing program for your buildings call the Building Scientists at Pure Air Control Services or go to: Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDlab) Edlab.org, a CDC ELITE laboratory (contact Dr. Rajiv Sahay 1-800-422-7873 ext 303).
About Pure Air Control Services, Inc.
Alan Wozniak founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in 1984 as a small mechanical contracting firm. Today, the firm sets the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis and remediation.
Pure Air Control Services nationally performed services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; EDLab a CDC ELITE Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning, HVAC system cleaning and Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services.
The company’s expanding client roster includes the Jones, Lang LaSalle (JLL), FAA, General Services Administration (GSA); Allstate Insurance; CBRE, Carrier Air Conditioning; NAVFAC, DOT, USACE, US Army, and many other Fortune 500 companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure Air Control Services the reliable industry leader.
For more information on Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Alan Wozniak or Dr Rajiv Sahay (800) 422-7873 ext 802 or 303 respectively.