Any individual responsible for the maintenance and operation of a cooling tower or building water system should be vigilant against Legionella. This dangerous bacteria can cause illness in humans, and understanding your risk of developing Legionella in your water can help you to make informed decisions about the maintenance of your system. Be sure to conduct regular Legionella risk assessments to keep your area safe.
What Is a Legionella Risk Assessment?
A Legionella risk assessment is a comprehensive overview of the water system that a property or building uses. This includes not only the piping but also any features of the building that use water, such as toilets, fountains, hot tubs, cooling towers, and other equipment. Regularly completing Legionella risk assessments is paramount to keeping a facility safe from dangerous bacteria.
Legionella is transmitted to humans via airborne water particles, such as mist or vapor. Once in contact with the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or throat, Legionella can cause severe illness. While Pontiac fever is a mild, flu-like sickness manifesting with diarrhea, muscle aches, nausea, fatigue, and chills, the bacteria’s much more dangerous namesake, Legionnaires’ disease, is also a possibility. This pneumonia-like illness can be fatal in one in ten who fall ill.
The Timeline for These Assessments
Legionella is a living organism, and as such, it can proliferate rapidly and without warning. For this reason, understand that Legionella risk assessments should be conducted regularly. How often is determined by the unique factors of your water system; a strict timeline of regular inspections should be supplemented and informed by additional check-ins when something new has occurred on the property.
Every Two Years
At a minimum, you should conduct a Legionella risk assessment every two years. However, be sure to examine your local regulations to ensure that this is sufficient; many governments mandate that businesses with cooling towers and other machinery that are particularly susceptible to Legionella outbreaks be inspected and assessed at least once per year. Even if you conduct a risk assessment every two years, you may need to further assess your system if any of the following changes occur.
Whenever There Is a Significant Change
In addition to your annual or biannual risk assessment, be sure to review your water system if you have made any large changes. What constitutes a significant change? Typically, important changes include the installation of new water features or the removal of previously functioning parts of the water system. Any time the water piping in the building has been accessed, a breach that could allow entry for Legionella is created.
Whether you have added a hot tub or fountain or you have removed and replaced an old cooling tower, Legionella may be a risk after a change. Be sure to conduct an assessment immediately.
Key Personnel Has Changed
If your location has experienced a change in personnel, you may need to undergo a risk assessment for Legionella earlier than the two year recommendation. New individuals may not be performing water maintenance tasks in the same way as the previous employee, which could leave the system vulnerable to infiltration by dangerous bacteria.
Any Modifications to the System
If you have modified the water system in any way, this means you have exposed the internal piping to external microbes, which could include Legionella. Even if all parts of the update were cleaned and treated before being added to the existing system, any temporary opening in the water lines can provide the perfect opportunity for Legionella to enter and begin to proliferate.
Change in the Use of the Water System
Water systems that previously were low-risk may need to be reevaluated if their use changes. Lines that were previously running very hot water that prevented Legionella growth may be repurposed to pipe tepid water where the bacteria can thrive. If you are considering any alterations to the use of your water system, be sure to reassess your risk of Legionella alongside an expert so that you can be sure you are not serving as the perfect host for these dangerous microbes.
Schedule Your Legionella Risk Assessment Today
If you are ready to reassess the risk of Legionella in your water system, be sure to reach out to an expert instead of trying to do the assessment yourself. A comprehensive risk assessment from an experienced company such as Legionella Compliance Solutions will review your entire water system to ensure that you are safe from this dangerous bacteria. The experts can help you develop a strategy for long-term Legionella control based on the unique features of your system so that you can be confident that your water is safe.