New York State Enforce Cooling Tower Regulations to Control Legionnaires'
Many safety regulations affecting all areas of society come into force because of events that demonstrate a lack of control and lead to a danger to public health. A case in point is the South Bronx, USA outbreak of legionellosis in 2015 – an outbreak that was found to have been caused by a cooling tower. These towers were not subjected to regulation prior to the outbreak, but in July 2016, the New York State Department of Health announced that new regulations covering the management of cooling towers would now be in effect to control legionella bacteria and risks from Legionnaires’ disease.
South Bronx outbreak of legionellosis
The outbreak led to 138 residents falling ill with legionellosis in the South Bronx. By the time the outbreak was contained, 16 people had died.
Legionellosis is the collective term used to describe diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.
According to information on the New York State website, between 200 and 800 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported each year in the state. However, outbreaks such as the one in the South Bronx are still very rare.
Registration of cooling towers is now required
The new regulations implemented by the New York State Department of Health require all owners of such cooling towers to register them. In cases where a new tower is constructed, registration must be completed before it is used.
Regular inspections of the cooling towers are also now required, and must take place no more than 90 days apart from each other. They are also required to be done prior to start-up when the tower has not been used, or after maintenance tasks have been completed.
Water sampling frequency and legionella testing
A clear plan for maintenance and sampling of cultures for legionella from the cooling tower water is also requested in the new regulations. Analysis of these cultures should be done regularly (at least every 90 days), and as a matter of urgency if the conditions demand it.
Water sampling, including testing for legionella bacteria should also be done within a fortnight of beginning to use a tower that is not in use all year. In cases where cooling towers are used throughout the year, sampling is required within two weeks of any maintenance being done.
Using approved technicians, chemical products, and approved testing laboratories
The new regulations also highlight the need to use approved technicians and products for disinfecting the system. Whenever water samples are to be tested, these must only be tested by labs that have been approved by the New York State Department of Health.
Specific additions for healthcare facilities and hospitals
The regulations also include information on providing an environmental assessment in healthcare facilities and hospitals. The potable water systems in these buildings must have a management plan that includes regular water sampling and analysis for legionella. For more information, consult the full regulations for cooling towers in New York State.
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If you have questions about any of the issues raised above or you would like to speak with one of our specialists please call us today on 0161 877 0586 or contact us here.