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ASHRAE backs adoption of legionella standard

36019483_lUSA: ASHRAE is pushing for its new legionella risk management standard to be more widely adopted following the recent outbreak in New York.

With 12 confirmed dead and 122 cases of legionnaires’ disease, New York City Council on Thursday adopted legislation that requires adherence to part of ASHRAE’s newly published Legionella standard.

Published just two months ago, the ASHRAE standard provides minimum legionellosis risk management requirements for the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement and expansion of new and existing buildings and their associated water systems and components.  

“Although the circumstances surrounding its use are tragic, ASHRAE is grateful that the standard is available to set requirements to manage risk of this bacteria,”  said ASHRAE president David Underwood. “We are hopeful other governments will follow the lead of the New York City Council to help safeguard public health.”

The new legislation requires all existing cooling towers to be registered with New York’s Department of Buildings and all new cooling towers to be registered with the city before beginning operation. The bill will also require regular inspection, testing, cleaning, and disinfection, annual certification and quarterly inspections. It requires owners to create and file a plan to maintain equipment to comply with Section 7.2 of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.

Michael Patton, a member of the committee who wrote the standard, testified before the Council earlier this week on behalf of ASHRAE. He spoke to the Council’s proposal to adopt Section 7.2, noting that other sections also would play a role in reducing risks. Section 7.2 lists common tasks and steps for items such as new system start-up and seasonal shutdowns, general system maintenance, water treatment, disinfection plans, etc.  

While Patton encouraged full adoption of the standard, he said it was helpful that at least Section 7.2 was included.

“Section 7 is very good by itself,” Patton testified, “but it doesn’t really address the whole idea of informing building owners, managers, property managers how to put a plan for a whole building into place and what it should contain.”

Underwood said ASHRAE will continue its work in getting the full standard adopted in New York City and in other locations.

 Specific requirements in the standard include minimum legionellosis risk management requirements, the establishment by building owners of a programme team and a water management programme and provision of specific and detailed requirements for what legionellosis control strategies must accomplish and how they are to be documented.

With no new patients testing positive for the disease since August 3, city officials believe they have contained the outbreak.

Related stories:

Mayor orders cooling tower registration – August 11, 2015
USA: With nearly 30% of cooling towers in the South Bronx legionnaires’ disease outbreak area testing positive for legionella, the Mayor has ordered compulsory registration of all sites. Read more…

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