Legionella Now And In A Post COVID World

legionnaires disease

No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow on every continent in the world. Lockdowns were immediately imposed, which led to the closure of shops, offices, industries, malls, schools, and commercial buildings. However, normalcy will be restored, and gradually people will return to these buildings that were once vacant. To ensure a safe re-opening of offices and buildings, there is a dire need to carry out thorough preventive maintenance of these buildings cooling towers. This will prevent the possible outbreak of diseases like Legionella.

Reports and studies from the CDC corroborate a likelihood of legionella bacteria growing in buildings left unoccupied or unused for a long time in both the potable water systems and HVAC systems and cooling towers. It is noteworthy that legionella bacteria grows in stagnant water bodies, which is the characteristic of water in an unused cooling tower.

This is a wake-up call to Facility managers and HVAC professionals to swing into action to eliminate the possible outbreak of legionella disease. As a start, an adequate legionella risk assessment must be carried out before re-opening any building, especially those with an installed cooling tower, to ensure that water and air quality are not compromised.

Legionella In A Post COVID World

According to an article published on ACS PUBLICATION, there is a considerable risk of legionella outbreak after the COVID-19 pandemic if adequate and appropriate measures are not put in place. New recommendations must be developed and implemented as post-COVID time sets to mitigate the risk of an outbreak. These acts will be similar to what was done after the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

These recommendations will enforce and ensure that no commercial building left unoccupied or unused during COVID is re-opened without proper and rigorous inspection. Besides, across much of the country, the winter season is gradually drawing the curtain. The warm season will set in soon. Remember that legionella bacteria love warm and stagnant unused water, particularly a feature of buildings with cooling towers during COVID.

The Latest Legionella Outbreak

The need to take necessary precautions and appropriate legionella risk management measures cannot be over-emphasized. In Union County, New Jersey,  fourteen cases of legionella disease have been reported and confirmed with one death. Records showed that these cases were reported between February 3rd and February 26th.

In fact, the New Jersey Department of Health is currently investigating the outbreak’s source to prevent future occurrences. Currently, the department’s official, alongside local health workers, has identified some legionella bacteria sources and is working to neutralize and curb the growth and spread.

Legionella in Stagnant Water

How To Protect Against Legionella

An unfortunate truth is that little to or no attention is paid to the maintenance of cooling towers and water treatment in them as long as they are functioning properly.

To prevent the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease within cooling towers, you should follow a few tips for cooling tower maintenance:

  •  Monthly inspection

It is essential to keep an eye on the water in cooling towers to check any irregularities such as scale, sediments, etc. Moreover, as we approach the warmer season, inspecting twice a month is advisable to be on the safe side and remain to rest assured of the water’s purity.

  •  Treat the Water

Water in cooling towers should be treated with a variety of antiscalant and antibacterials to manage the quality and risk of legionella and other bacterial growth. A variety of water treatment companies are available to tackle this important task on an ongoing basis. But water treatment alone is not enough. Constant maintenance and cleaning are required too.

  •  Removal of Stagnant Water

After a long period of not using a cooling tower, stagnant water should be flushed out totally and replaced with fresh water. Stagnant water might harbor legionella bacteria already without you knowing.

  •  Clean the Fill

We have learned that stagnant water can breed legionella bacteria; therefore, cleaning the fill to remove slime and scale in cooling towers must not be overlooked. Cleaning the fill allows for better flow and reduces the tendency of growth of mold and bacteria. Additionally, cleaning of tower basins is essential to remove food sources from bacteria and keep heat exchanger tubes clean.

  •  Proper Water temperature

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides several recommendations on how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease in cooling towers. Perhaps the most crucial piece of advice is to keep the temperature of the sump water below 68 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

  •  Surface Disinfection

Disinfection with an EPA registered antimicrobial product, labeled explicitly for HVAC use, should be used to clean surfaces of all HVAC systems and add-ons. This can help keep microorganisms from flourishing between cleaning cycles.

  •  Clean Basin Surfaces

Cleaning the basin of a cooling tower eliminates the places where harmful bacteria grow. Although basin cleaning can be a part of the monthly maintenance schedule, preventing the growth of Legionella requires a thorough basin cleaning at least once every two weeks.

Guides To Follow

Also see ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2018, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems. Which clarifies compliance requirements, and is updated throughout with enforceable, code-intended language to facilitate the adoption of the standard for code and regulatory purposes.

When used in conjunction with Standard 188-2018, Guideline 12-2020 – Minimizing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems can provide prescriptive guidance for operators of water management systems to control legionellosis in building water systems.

Next Steps:

The CDC recently published a toolkit to reduce the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria.

Read more about preventing Legionella in Cooling Towers.

Discover our Cooling Tower Cleaning Solutions

Learn about Cooling Tower Fill Descaling

 

 

 

Don’t Delay On Coil Cleaning Preventative Maintenance

Coil Cleaning

Preventative Maintenance

HVAC systems rely on cooperation between your evaporator and condenser coils working together to get their job done. Over time, these coils can become dirty, causing the system to lose efficiency by reducing the ability to exchange heat. This causes increased energy costs and reduces the life of HVAC systems. Both are costly. How do you stop this from happening? Preventative maintenance. One of the most important things to do is make sure you follow a good coil cleaning program as part of your overall preventive maintenance program.

Dirty Coils Waste Money

When your HVAC system is operating with dirty coils, it can use up to 37% more energy than if they were clean. [i] A coil that has been fouled up with dirt, grease, or grime cannot work as efficiently as it once did. What are the dirty coils symptoms you need to watch out for?

  •  High Head Pressure
  • High Compression Ratio
  • Compressor Overload
  • Tripping High-Pressure Switch
  • Low Capacity
  • Poor Efficiency
  • Coil Freezing
  • Compressor Damage Due to Liquid Flood Back

Do you want to reduce the chance of issues like this occurring? Make sure you implement coil cleaning as part of your regular maintenance program. Coil cleaning should occur consistently to ensure that there is no build-up or deterioration to the coils. Do it as often as you can, especially in dusty environments, but at a minimum in the Spring and Fall, or depending on the HVAC unit’s amount of use and location.

Lack of Maintenance Reduces Efficiency

When your system is not operating efficiently, your cooling capacity can go down by 30%. Just think of what that does to monthly energy bills.  Staying on top of your coil cleaning maintenance is the only way to ensure you are keeping your HVAC operating at maximum efficiency.

Do you know how to clean coils properly? The severity of the dirt on the coils will determine the cleaning method required; however, the easiest solution is to use a coil cleaning system. These products are specifically designed for cleaning coils. Simple match the system to the right coils. They are available for cleaning evaporator coils, condenser coils in rooftop units (RTU), air-cooled chillers and heat exchangers, air handling units (AHU), PTAC units, and more.

When using coil cleaning systems, it is essential to use a machine that provides just the right amount of PSI pressure to keep coils from becoming damaged. Smaller units require lower PSI and lower water volumes. In contrast, larger condenser coils may require higher pressures and water volumes up to 3.5 gallons per minute.

The Proof Preventative Maintenance Matters

You don’t have to take our word that good coil maintenance and cleaning matters. Experts have done their own research to explore how efficient an HVAC system can be with the proper maintenance. A study printed in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Journal concluded that good maintenance and operation practices (including coil cleaning) could improve energy performance and indoor air quality performance.

Co-op City, a 300-acre complex with multiple establishments, and houses a total of 15,372 apartments (one of the largest New York undertakings) that are heated and cooled by convectors called Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTACs). PTACs are the type of units you would find in hotel rooms. When asked how they were handling the 60,000 to 80,000 coils that make up the units, the answer was by “replacement.” When asked how they were handling the 60,000 to 80,000 coils that make up the units, the answer was by “replacement.” When a maintenance plan was introduced, the maintenance manager reported that they were doing 50% fewer replacements of the coils due to cleaning them without removing them. The Co-op City air quality was improved, and the efficiency in the units multiplied.

Westchester One houses five separate data rooms, all of which require significant amounts of cooling. Many of these server rooms operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year-and the HVAC must too. There are reports that the energy bills from Westchester One have reduced by thousands because they can use the whole coil for the operation now that they can properly clean them. One bill was even $20,000 below budget!

See the Proof with Your Own Eyes

If you have been looking for a way to make the HVAC at your home or business, run more efficiently, our coil cleaning solution to help you satisfy those needs. There is no longer a need to remove coils or replace them consistently when you can clean them and extend their lives (and the life of your unit).

You don’t have to take our word for it. Try it yourself and see just how much more efficient your system is and how much money you can save. When you begin your coil cleaning program, you will see in a short time just how much better your unit runs when you keep it clean and maintained. For help deciding what solution is best for you, check out our Coil Cleaning Buying Guide.

 

[i] https://www.sce.com/regulatory/energy-efficiency-filings/monthly-energy-efficiency-reports

[ii] https://www.sce.com/regulatory/energy-efficiency-filings/monthly-energy-efficiency-reports

 

NEXT STEPS:

Check out our Coil Cleaning Systems and Chemicals

Download our Coil Cleaning Pro Guide

Read Buying a Coil Cleaning System? Avoid these Five Mistakes

Discover our Coil Cleaner Buying Guide

 

 

Disinfection in the Classroom

Space4Learning 2020 Product Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the school year comes into the winter months the topic on the top of many minds is how to keep students, employees, and staff safe during the colder months.

Some kids are learning from their dining room tables, side by side with their siblings with a laptop in front of each face. 

Some kids are spending only a few days in the classroom each week, with only half the desks filled by their peers.

Even kids who are heading back to school full-time have a new, unique experience; mandatory masks, temperature checks, and social distancing are becoming part of the new normal for education. 

But even with all these new precautions, teachers, parents, and students have to wonder: is the school safe? The answer is based on a variety of factors – and school disinfection ranks awfully high on the list. Before any school can deem itself self safe, it must take time to fully clean the facility from the baseboard to the HVAC vents.

HVAC Systems and School Safety

Air quality has always been an important part of the educational experience. If the air quality in your schools it can trigger a myriad of health problems like asthma, headaches, eye irritation, and everything in between. Furthermore, studies have shown that poor indoor air can actually interfere with cognitive function – literally making it harder for students to learn during the school day! 

Of course, COVID-19 has only brought more attention to the importance of air quality – particularly when it comes to HVAC systems. Because we know the coronavirus can spread through droplets in the air, it is important to have clean, maintained filters for your indoor spaces. These filters can help trap virus-containing droplets and prevent them from spreading sickness throughout a building. This is extremely important for places like schools, which see high traffic throughout each day.

The EPA already has high standards for air quality tools in school buildings. However, schools that are reopening after months of lockdown may need to do some additional cleaning before their HVAC systems are ready for students. These systems have been sitting unused for months; as a result, they’re likely filled with dust, debris, and possibly even mold or mildew. A thorough HVAC disinfection is the best way to ensure clean air in every classroom once the students return.

Alcohol-Based Disinfectants: The Perfect Tool for School Disinfection

If you are preparing to keep your school throughout the winter months, you’ll need to make sure every surface (desks, floors, lockers, etc.) is clean as can be. And we DO mean every surface – even your HVAC vents need to be sparkling clean! How can you disinfect such a massive facility in order to keep everyone safe throughout the year?

Quick-drying alcohol-based sanitizers are the perfect solution for disinfecting your school, office, or other large space. A quick-drying, EPA-registered, alcohol-based disinfectant, like our BIOSPRAY-D2, covers over surfaces quickly, easily, and safely. These types of 1-step disinfectants containing ethanol have been proven to rapidly reduced vegetative bacterial pathogens on carriers and on hard and soft surfaces. 

The importance of using strong disinfectant sprays that are strong enough to eliminate germs on surfaces, but gentle enough to use on surfaces around children is an important part of keeping schools open and the children and staff in the classroom safe and healthy. 

The way in which disinfectant products are applied is also crucial. Traditional methods of cleaning and disinfecting, like pump spraying or manually wiping can be ineffective, leaving gaps in coverage. Manual wiping can lead to cross-contamination due to using soiled rags/towels to apply the cleaner. Manual wiping can also lead to injury due to the repetitive nature of the maintenance worker.

An Award-Winning Product

There’s no doubt that Portable BioSpray-5 is one of the best tools available for school disinfection today. In fact, this sanitation system was just awarded the Spaces4Learning New Product Award! This award “honors the outstanding product development achievements of manufacturers and suppliers whose products or services are considered to be particularly noteworthy in their ability to enhance the learning environment,” and we are simply thrilled to have received this incredible honor. 

Visit our website to learn more about BioSpray-5. You can also contact us here with any questions you have about this sanitation system, our disinfecting spray, or any of our other sanitizing products. 

Proper school disinfection is the key to a safe, healthy, and successful year, so make sure your staff and students have the very best!

5 Tips To Keeping Manufacturing Employees Safe From COVID-19

production floor

In March 2020, the United States began a series of state shutdowns to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Now, in this state of uncertainty, we may not know what the future will hold but we do know that things in the manufacturing workplace will demand change now.

Masks in public have become more commonplace – and in some establishments, even required. Social groups have gotten smaller as social distancing has also become more normalized. Many companies have embraced working from home to protect employees.

For those who can’t work from home – like manufacturing employees and other essential workers – there are countless new safety precautions.

As this global health crisis continues, safety on the manufacturing floor has changed from more than the usual safety glasses and glove PPE to more advanced training and protection. So, how can manufacturers keep their employees safe on the floor? Here are a few essential tips and tools to help you.

Mask Wearing

While epidemiologists and health experts are still learning new things about COVID-19, there is one thing they know for sure: it is highly contagious and spreads via airborne droplets.

When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks, virus-containing droplets travel into the air where it can infect others. This is why the CDC recommends that all individuals wear masks when near one another.

Masks work by preventing infected people from infecting others as they go about their daily work activities. It is estimated that 20% of infected individuals are asymptomatic (show no symptoms), and this is a straightforward precaution you and your employees can’t afford to skip.

Space Employees Six Feet Apart

In addition to mask-wearing, creating separation between people is an essential part of reducing viral transfer risk. Standing six feet apart has been the direction of health experts since the COVID-19 first entered the country.

This is one precaution that’s free, easy to do, and critical if you want to keep employees safe. However, it is important to understand this can have impacts on your production floor layout or flow and so some planning and training will be required.

Keeping employees safe on the manufacturing floor will require various safety solutions, often used in tandem. This will require ongoing training and observation to ensure “old” habits don’t creep back into workplaces.

Limit Social Exposure with Staggered Shifts

As mentioned, creating additional space in your production areas may sauce unique space challenges.  After all, you only have so much space in your facility, and your pre-COVID workforce wasn’t designed to have that much distance between them. The CDC has a recommendation: stagger your employee’s shifts.

Staggered shifts are a great way to mitigate the risk of transmission in a busy manufacturing facility. This system guarantees that fewer people will be in the building at any given time, making social distancing much easier.

Staggering shifts can also help relieve congestion in high-traffic areas such as entrances, exits, break rooms, and time clocks. Limiting the time workers spend huddled in groups, waiting to punch in or get some coffee, will also limit the chances of an outbreak at your facility.

While staggered shifts can cause business disruptions and increased costs in the short term, it can help reduce the risk of large scale labor shortages later.

Protect Each Other with Plexiglass Barriers

In the world of manufacturing, it’s common for workers to spend all day in one spot, focusing on one task or project. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce another form of transmission protection: plexiglass barriers.

The CDC states that plexiglass barriers (or barriers of any other impermeable material) between workers can be an effective way for manufacturing companies to keep their employees safe on the job. Of course, plexiglass barriers are not a perfect solution – if workers step out from behind the barriers, they can be exposed to the virus. Physical barriers can slow down the assembly process for some manufacturers.

If your company can safely install plexiglass barriers between workers (without affecting your work overall), it is a wise step for preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, like all the other precautions listed here, they work best in conjunction with other safety measures. Make sure workers social distance and wear masks – even behind the glass!

Adopt Proper Sanitation and Disinfection Techniques

Finally, an important and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your facility: keep your space cleaned and sanitized!

Regular deep cleaning and disinfecting of industrial shared surfaces, and air ducts in any work building is the proven method to reduce the risk of viral transmission in your facility and between your employees.

Sanitation, disinfection, and proper ventilation have always been important on the manufacturing floor, but it is even more critical now. The EPA claims that indoor spaces are riskier than outdoor ones for the spread of COVID-19, as a lack of proper ventilation can keep the virus locked in with people. Therefore, it is vital to keep your HVAC system clean and in working order to keep your workers safe and healthy.

 

 

The Importance of a Legionella Maintenance Program in Cooling Towers

Closed due to Legionella

Two recent events in Atlanta, Georgia, underscores the importance of following a maintenance program for cooling towers to prevent the development of Legionella.

The first outbreak of Legionella happened at the Sheraton Atlanta in July of 2019. Six months later, more than 50 claims filed against the hotel prompted the parent company to file a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court. Attorney Jeffrey Diamond said, “It’s a type of a lawsuit called declaratory judgment in which the parties to an insurance policy-the insureds and the insurance companies- are going to litigate whether or not there is coverage for the claims of the people who are alleged to have been injured by the Legionella outbreak.”

In early August of 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closed several of its building located in Atlanta because a team of inspectors discovered Legionella bacteria in the water system. The bacteria most likely grew during the extended Coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

The CDC issued a statement that read, “During the recent closures at our leased space in Atlanta, working through the General Services Administration (GSA), CDC directed the landlord to take protective actions. Despite their best efforts, CDC has been notified that Legionella, which can cause ‘Legionnaires’ Disease, is present in some water sources in the buildings.” Since discovering the bacteria, the CDC shut down the facilities until the remediation project concludes.

What is ‘Legionnaires’ Disease?

A group of research biologists found Legionella bacteria among many attendees at a 1976 convention held in Philadelphia. The bacteria collect to create ‘Legionnaires’ disease, which patients contract by breathing water vapors that contain the bacteria. People over the age of 50, especially those with underlying lung problems, are the most vulnerable to the disease. Severe symptoms include the inability to breathe correctly, with around 15 percent of cases resulting in death. Other symptoms of the disease are acute fatigue and a persistent cough.

Cooling Towers and ‘Legionnaires’ Disease

What is the direct connection between legionnaires’ disease and a cooling tower? The answer lies in understanding cooling towers, as well as cooling tower maintenance.

Cooling towers operate as a part of an HVAC or process cooling system, typically for industrial infrastructures. Considered cost-effective and energy-efficient cooling centers operate in buildings that include schools, hospitals, industrial plants, and office buildings. Because they hold large quantities of water, cooling towers can produce Legionella bacteria if the systems do not receive regularly scheduled maintenance and have ineffective water treatment programs.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Legionella Growth in Cooling Towers

Because of the large size, cooling towers are considered difficult to clean. However, to prevent the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease withing cooling towers, you should follow a few tips for cooling tower maintenance.

Conduct Monthly Inspections

Inspecting cooling towers at least once a month helps identify areas where scale, biofilm, and sediment buildup occur. These are hotspots for Legionella to flourish. During the warmer months of the year, consider changing to a bi-weekly schedule of cooling tower maintenance.

Clean Basin Surfaces

Cleaning the basin of a cooling tower eliminates the places where harmful bacteria grow. Although basin cleaning can be a part of the monthly maintenance schedule, preventing the growth of Legionella requires a thorough basin cleaning at least once every two weeks. Attaching a powerful water filter can prevent the development of harmful slime.

Treat the Water

Contracting with a certified water treatment company should keep the water flowing through a cooling tower in pristine condition. Treatments like biocides can prevent the production of dangerous Legionella bacteria. Look at a water treatment program as one part of your cooling tower maintenance program, not a strategy that you should depend on by itself to prevent the outbreak of ‘Legionnaires’ disease.

Proper Sump Water Temperature

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides several recommendations on how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease in cooling towers. Perhaps the most crucial advice is to keep the temperature of the sump water below 68 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

Remove Stagnant Water

Stagnant water represents the ideal spot for bacteria, such as Legionella, to grow. By conducting dead leg and side-arm piping, you should eliminate stagnant water from a cooling tower.

Reduce the Drift Rate

A contaminated mist that forms within a cooling tower can enter the respiratory system of anyone sitting or standing next to a cooling tower. Using a mist eliminator should be a priority on your cooling tower maintenance list.

Clean the Fill

Cleaning the fill not only eliminates scale and slime, but it also enhances the flow of water inside a cooling tower. Control the growth of mold and bacteria such as Legionella by cleaning a cooling tower fill at least once a month.

Disinfect the Surfaces

Once surfaces have been cleaned, consider disinfecting with an EPA registered antimicrobial product, labeled explicitly for HVAC use. This can help keep microorganisms from flourishing between cleaning cycles.

Two more tips to complete the list of tasks for cooling tower maintenance. First, always wear protective equipment when cleaning a system to prevent the breathing of harmful Legionella bacteria. Second, always keep records of completed maintenance on cooling towers.

The Bottom Line

The two outbreaks of Legionella bacteria emphasize the importance of implementing preventive maintenance techniques on water systems, especially the vital water system component called cooling towers. A cooling tower maintenance product like the CTV-1501 and BioSpray Tower can prevent Legionella bacteria from tarnishing your ‘company’s hard-earned positive reputation.

CTV-1501 Towervac® Cooling Tower Vacuum eliminates bacteria like Legionella. The powerful suction of the vacuum removes mud, slime, and algae, which are contaminants that allow Legionella to flourish. You do not have to drain the entire water system, which saves time and prevents water loss.

As a complementary tool to prevent the development of Legionella bacteria, the BioSpray Tower works well on non-porous surfaces. The disinfectant kills 99.9% of the Legionella that develops in cooling towers.

 

Next Steps:

Find your perfect solution with our Complete Cooling Tower Maintenance Solutions from Goodway

Learn about Cooling Tower Fill Descaling

Get tips on Preventing Health Risks from Contamination in Cooling Towers

 

 

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