Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise, increasing six-fold in the last 20 years, with no signs of stopping. The disease is caused by inhaling Legionella bacterium from cooling towers, hot tubs, premise plumbing fixtures and other building water systems. Legionnaires’ disease kills, on average, 10 percent of those infected.
Because changes to plumbing codes could be central to controlling the growth of Legionella in premise plumbing, industry plays an important role in combatting Legionnaires’ disease. The Academies report provides detailed recommendations on a number of highly relevant issues, including:
(1) Identifying a threshold of measured Legionella concentration in premise plumbing that should be considered an action level that will trigger remediation.
(2) Comparing how various control methods for Legionella (including high temperatures, disinfection, hydraulic management, distal devices and certain plumbing materials, and reducing inhalation exposure) can be used in a variety of buildings and device types, including hospitals, large public buildings, residences, cooling towers, humidifiers, and hot tubs.
(3) Explaining how water and energy conservation features of green buildings can exacerbate problems with Legionella.
(4) Describing the current level of protection against Legionella afforded to public buildings in the U.S. based on state and federal regulations as well as plumbing codes and voluntary guidance such as ASHRAE 188.
Protecting the public from Legionella infections will require the involvement of many diverse stakeholder groups. Click
to download a 4-page report brief is relevant to plumbers and building management professionals, and the full report can be purchased at www.nap.edu/catalog/25474
or downloaded for free with registration.