Legionella is a disease named for the American Legion conference where it first broke out on a wide scale. The disease is caused by the legionella pneumophila bacteria. It causes tens of thousands of illnesses per year, and it can result in death. Let’s learn who legionella testing is important for businesses of all kinds.
It Is Essential to Maintaining a Safe Environment
Legionella occurs naturally in surface waters like lakes. However, it can multiply in certain man-made conditions. If you don’t maintain a high enough water temperature in your boilers and hot water heaters, you could make people sick when they took showers or breathe in the hot, moist air. This isn’t just a concern for property owners. Spas, athletic facilities and healthcare facilities need to test for the pathogen so that customers stop coming because your business made them ill. For multi-family housing units or healthcare facilities, legionella testing may be necessary to meet regulatory requirements. One such case is ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188. Don’t forget to do legionella tests near water features inside buildings so that you don’t accidentally make your visitors ill, either.
It Is Necessary to Minimize Legal Liability
If your accountant asks why legionella testing is important, you could discuss how it reduces your legal liability. If there is a large scale disease outbreak in a convention center, childcare facility, or care home, the legal liability could put you out of business. If your industry has already seen several such outbreaks, you may be able to reduce your liability insurance rates by demonstrating proactive testing for legionella. Such testing should be considered mandatory if there have been prior cases of legionella at the facility. Fortunately, you can use the test results to prove that your corrective actions are working correctly.
It Allows You to Find the Right Environmental Balance
While energy efficiency mandates call for lower temperatures on thermostats and hot water heaters, there are limits. You obviously don’t want someone’s home to get so cold that their pipes freeze. That leads to expensive property damage. Homes that are too cold can lead to illness in people, too. It isn’t true that the cold weather makes you ill, but temperatures not much above freezing stress people and can even cause hypothermia. There are health risks when the hot water systems aren’t hot enough, too. A hot water heater that isn’t hot enough to kill legionella can foster the bacterial growth, repeatedly exposing people with every shower, load of dishes and other use of hot water. Your attempt to save energy now puts their health at risk. You can verify that this isn’t the case by performing legionella testing periodically. If you have tests that suggest a health risk, you can also push back on demands to lower the water temperature. Check the proper function of humidifiers or dehumidifiers with the pathogen tests, as well.
You can also use legionella test results to verify that chiller towers are running properly and that water leaks aren’t creating dangerous health concerns. You could use the test results to encourage management to make infrastructure changes for health reasons when the cost-benefit analysis based on energy efficiency aren’t strong enough to lead to upgraded equipment.