Anyone who is in charge of managing a cooling tower has a responsibility to keep it safe to operate. Cooling towers are a particular risk when considering the spread of Legionella bacteria due to the way that they perform their tasks, creating water vapor through evaporation during the process of heat exchange.
If the system is contaminated with Legionella bacteria, they can be present in the water droplets that are cast into the air during the tower’s normal operation, traveling for miles to infect humans with potentially deadly illnesses. Thus, maintaining a comprehensive Legionella prevention plan is critical. Consider the following areas when evaluating your prevention schedule.
Areas To Work On In A Legionella Prevention Plan
A Legionella prevention plan for a cooling tower must be comprehensive; if the bacteria are allowed to proliferate, even in a small area, they may quickly overtake the system and cause an outbreak.
As you consider what to include in your Legionella prevention plan for your cooling tower, be sure to evaluate how you currently handle the following issues, because they are some of the most common problem areas when it comes to the growth of Legionella in a system.
Not everyone considers how biofilms might impact the presence of Legionella because biofilms are not made up of the bacteria. Instead, this slimy material, secreted from bacteria, collects dust and grime that enters the tower into a sticky conglomerate that Legionella bacteria can feed on and even take shelter near.
Biofilms provide unwanted protection for Legionella that should be removed through water treatment and other tactics. Thus, tackling issues with biofilms removes some of the hiding places that Legionella could be utilizing to overcome your prevention strategies. This is typically accomplished through the use of detergents and dispersants.
Cooling towers typically utilize a drift eliminators to reduce the water that sprays out of the system. However, even the best drift eliminator will not always stop 100% of water droplets from entering the air from the cooling tower.
Your Legionella prevention plan should include regular review of the drift eliminator to locate issues, and be sure that the equipment is not installed near an air intake or window where potentially contaminated particles could spread to people.
A comprehensive prevention plan for Legionella requires that you understand where your water comes from and what its composition is. If your water is full of nutrients that can feed Legionella, you will need to treat the water, and you should also regularly clean and remove sediment that has built up from your water source.
Sediment, corrosion, and other unwanted debris could provide a safe hiding place for bacteria. If your water’s pH is not in range or there are other issues, water treatment can help; in fact, it is one of the most vital steps in any Legionella prevention plan.
Cleaning and disinfecting cooling tower surfaces help to remove safe havens and food sources for Legionella bacteria. It is important to remember that even if water treatment occurs regularly, and even if your strategy involves varied antimicrobial stressors (such as switching biocides consistently for a more comprehensive treatment), you must still take the time to physically clean the internal surfaces of your tower to prevent the buildup of sludge and other unwanted materials.
Not only does this keep your equipment clean and prevent issues such as fouling and premature failure, saving you money in repairs, but it also removes valuable safe areas for Legionella to grow.
Planning Around Design
The actual physical design of your cooling tower plays a big part in how you should build your Legionella prevention plan. Dead legs, or areas where water stagnates or does not flow as regularly, are common examples of potentially problematic design flaws in a water system that can contribute to the development of a Legionella outbreak.
You must take special action to compensate for these weak and vulnerable areas in your system; that may include removing dead legs entirely, flushing the water through the system more frequently, or another plan that an experienced Legionella professional can help you to develop.
Work With The Expert Legionella Prevention Professionals
If you are considering how to create a comprehensive Legionella prevention plan for your cooling tower but are unsure where to start or how to ensure that your plan is viable, it is best to work on your strategy with an expert.
The professionals at Legionella Compliance Solutions would be happy to lend their experience to provide a customized strategy that tackles the unique challenges of your building and your tower. Reach out to schedule an appointment with a professional at Legionella Compliance Solutions today.