All buildings, from residential homes to large industrial facilities, rely in some way on freshwater. This leaves them susceptible to the growth of bacteria and other contaminants in the water that could have a lasting or significant impact on the building. If you have recently conducted a Legionella test and have discovered that your freshwater system is positive for this potentially dangerous bacteria, deciding what to do next will depend on a variety of factors unique to your situation.
Why Legionella Is An Important Test Metric
In order to understand what to do after Legionella has been discovered in your water system, you must first learn more about why Legionella is tested for in the first place and the dramatic impacts it could have on your building and the people in the vicinity. Legionella is a type of gram-negative bacteria that flourishes in freshwater, most commonly between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Legionella can be introduced to humans through water droplets that humans breathe in or absorb through the mucous membranes in the eyes and nose. Once Legionella enters the body, it can cause a variety of illnesses, from the flu-like Pontiac fever to the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease, which is characterized by sudden and severe lung inflammation.
Many people assume that Legionella is only a problem in facilities with large cooling towers, hot tubs and other equipment that produces steam regularly. While these are some of the most common sites for a Legionella outbreak, it is important to remember that even the simple act of flushing a toilet can discharge water droplets into the air, and so buildings should regularly test for Legionella to ensure that the people who live and work in or near that location are safe.
Evaluating Testing Based On Location, Time And Other Factors
If you have undergone testing on your water system and discovered that your water is positive for Legionella, what you do next should be guided by your Legionella Risk Management Plan and the results that you uncovered in the testing. Where in the building did the water draw for testing take place? Was the test conducted on pre flush (or “first draw”) water or post flush samples? Understanding these pieces of data will help to effectively guide the plan of attack for removing the Legionella from your system. It is important when testing for Legionella bacteria that you work with testing and legionella experts who have partnered with a reliable lab; simply understanding that Legionella is present in your water may not be sufficient to address the problem. A lab that works with Legionella sampling can inform you of exactly what species and even which serogroup your bacteria belong to, which will impact your method of treatment.
Determining Your Next Steps
The next step immediately after discovering that your building contains Legionella is to follow your water management plan. Unfortunately, many facilities do not establish such a plan ahead of their first Legionella outbreak. Establishing a strategy for conquering Legionella early in the process is critical, but if the time for preparation has already passed, the next best thing to do is to ascertain the type of water that is impacted. Every building relies on two separate types of water: potable (or drinkable) and non-potable (or not meant for human consumption). While Legionella in either of these locations is a serious issue, potable water infected with Legionella poses a more immediate danger.
If you can locate where the Legionella growth is occurring, your next step should be to take the affected systems out of service if possible until the issue is resolved. After this, or especially if the system cannot be shut off until the Legionella is dealt with, you should reach out to experienced Legionella compliance and remediation experts who can evaluate your system specifically and administer the appropriate Legionella strategy. Your system will bear its own unique risks that make Legionella treatment a personalized process; simply adding chemicals or biocides to the water may not be sufficient to conquer the bacteria.
Work With Experienced Legionella Testing And Compliance Professionals
Whether you have just received a positive Legionella test from your most recent water sampling or you would like to establish a water management plan ahead of time, be sure to trust Legionella compliance professionals. The experts at Legionella Compliance Solutions would be happy to offer an individualized plan to treat Legionella in your building based upon the specific risk factors and challenges posed by your water system. Reach out to schedule an appointment to speak with a Legionella expert and develop a strategy for removing the bacteria from your water and keeping your building safe.