New protocol for cooling towers to prevent Legionellosis

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Global public health organization NSF International has published a new protocol, which outlines proper maintenance and safety practices associated with evaporative cooling systems.

NSF P453: Cooling Towers – Treatment, Operation, and Maintenance to Prevent Legionellosis also addresses health concerns associated with commercial buildings, including health care facilities, whose residents may experience health issues such as Legionellosis from improperly maintained water systems. It can also be can be used by facilities to establish a management plan for the treatment, operation and maintenance of cooling tower water systems.

The protocol can be applied in Canada and references follow local regulations from the Authority Having Jurisdiction. It uses the water safety plan approach recommended by the World Health Organization to assemble a team, identify potential hazards and establish control measures to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, fewer than 100 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported each year, but the actual number of infections could be much higher. Statistics are also worrisome in other parts of the world. In the U.S., 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported each year.

“Legionella bacteria are found naturally in fresh water environments, like lakes and streams, but can quickly become a health concern due to lack of proper treatment, operation and maintenance in building water systems and cooling towers.” said Dave Purkiss, general manager of water systems at NSF International.

NSF P453 allows owners and managers of buildings with cooling tower water systems to create an easy-to-follow, actionable plan with specific means and methods to manage the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

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