Can ASHRAE 188 Help Prevent Legionella?
Perhaps you have heard of the US legionella management standard ASHRAE 188, but you may not be fully aware what it stands for – or how it can be of use to you and your business in preventing the contamination of your water. If you work in the USA and have responsibility for a building or other facility that uses water, this recently updated water management standard will help you work out whether that building should have a water management program in place. While the standard is voluntary it helps to highlight the minimum legionella control requirements of such a program, thereby helping to ensure you have covered everything needed to safeguard you, your co-workers and others from the dangers of exposure to the potentially deadly legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease.
Does every building need a water management program?
In some cases, a building may not need an in-depth water management program. However, there may some higher risk devices present that would require a detailed program to be in place. A hot tub would be a good example. In other cases, a building may have complex water systems and one or more devices such as cooling towers that must always be kept under proper control.
Are there elements the ASHRAE 188-2015 standard does not cover?
Yes, there are two broad areas that are not covered by ASHRAE 188-2015. The first concerns the ideal water temperature range to be maintained in each device or area. It does not provide facts and figures regarding the chemical dosage for the water using disinfectant or a similar product. This can vary widely depending on the circumstances and location.
Furthermore, if you experience issues with your hot or cold water supply that lead to growth and proliferation of legionella bacteria, you won’t find any guidance in the ASHRAE standard. Instead, it focuses on covering water treatment programs – when and whether one is needed, and how to establish one, operate and maintain it as required.
Who can benefit from familiarising themselves with the ASHRAE legionella standard?
Anyone who is responsible for a man-made water system in the USA, regardless of whether the water is designed for human use or not, should read the standard and all information relating to it. It is important to understand that ASHRAE 188 currently has no legal status unless it is adopted as such. However, this does not mean it should be ignored.
Receiving appropriate and professional guidance concerning the management and maintenance of a water system of any sort can be invaluable. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provide plenty of information to this end, it is good to read through the information provided by ASHRAE 188-2015 as well.
The standard also provides guidance on when and where legionella testing might be required. Further information on how to test can then be sought from another professional source, i.e. the CDC or legionella Control International.
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