Legionnaires’ Disease Strikes Again

Legionnaires’ disease is in the news again. Late last week, there were reports that 11 people in Manhattan were sickened. Then, over the weekend, more people were reported to have fallen ill. Many remain in the hospital. As the later report notes, “Health officials believe vapor from water cooling towers is spreading bacteria that causes the disease.” Although treatable with antibiotics, Legionnaires’ can also be fatal. In fact, 12 people died in the Bronx in 2015 as a result of an outbreak.

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How the Increased Use of HVAC In Winter Creates More Allergen Buildup

Facility HVAC Management in Winter - AllergenThe results are in and according to groundhog legend, we’re in for a few more weeks of winter. That’s not welcomed news for some in this country as snowstorms have already extended into regions of the country rarely experiencing anything but the odd flurry. Hazardous weather keeps many people indoors for days and sometimes weeks, without any fresh air. This means HVAC systems and furnaces must work overtime to keep the air warm while maintaining indoor air quality.

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The Importance of Duct Cleaning for Indoor Air Quality

This winter could break temperature and snowfall records across the country. For most of us, staying inside is the only defense. Avoiding the outdoors may keep us safe from dangerous weather, but we face another danger from the inside. The air quality inside a building begins to worsen when there are less fresh outdoor air and an increase in people and animals. Poor air quality is not only uncomfortable but can be bad for your health.

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HVAC System Repair and Maintenance Crucial after Hurricane Flooding  

For the first time in recorded history, the U.S. was slammed with back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes — Harvey and Irma — from the Atlantic. Many people in Texas and Florida continue to battle and hopefully recover from flooded streets, scattered debris, damaged homes, and inoperable buildings. The economic costs associated with this tag team of natural disasters in the U.S. are expected to be $290 billion.  

Mold and HVAC Systems

Part of that recovery process will be to assess the extent of the water damage. In the hot and humid climates of Texas and Florida mold growth is the biggest concern.

Mold and mildew pose real threats to flooded buildings. The stagnant standing water presents the perfect environment for bacteria growth, making any porous materials susceptible.

Typically, mold grows on floors and walls, but flooded HVAC systems can also pose a real health threat if mold is allowed to grow. Ductwork and insulation that has mold growth can pose a health threat to the entire building if the HVAC system is running because mold spores can be carried through ducts and distributed throughout the building.

HVAC System Cleaning

Proper cleaning of HVAC systems after a flood is imperative to the health of building occupants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you remove all flood-contaminated insulation and materials associated with the HVAC system and discard them.

Then you should clean the interior of the flooded system with a HEPA vacuum to remove the dirt and debris as well as microorganisms that typical industrial vacuums may not be able to pick up. After the HVAC system is cleaned it also needs to be thoroughly disinfected to prevent the growth of bacteria and microorganisms.

The aftermaths of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma will likely be felt for years while communities work to clean up and rebuild their homes and businesses. Prioritizing HVAC system cleaning is imperative to protect the health of building occupants during this time. Using a good HEPA vacuum to get rid of spores and a mold controlling cleaner are good ways to stop bacteria from growing and recurring.

Check out these other resources for information on HVAC mold prevention and cleaning:

  1. Effective Industrial Mold Control: A Three Step Process
  2. Controlling Mold: An HVAC Professional’s Guide
  3. How to Rid Your AC of Mold
  4. Mold Clean Up After Floods
  5. How to Protect an HVAC Unit from Flood Water

How to Future Proof Your Facility Management Career

Someday your facility’s cooling tower may be queued up to follow an automatic preventive maintenance program and actually self-clean in an effort to boost efficiencies and decrease unplanned repair costs. Cool, right? Well, there’s a growing concern within many industries that “automation” is synonymous with “job loss.”

According to a recent McKinsey & Co. analysis of 2,000 different work activities across 800 occupations, automation will change virtually every job in every occupation. Specifically, McKinsey found that in about 60% of occupations, 30% of tasks could be handed over to robots and bots. Bad news for your career, right? … Think again.

The report concludes less than 5% of global occupations will be fully automated using current technology. The remaining 95% will simply change to account for advancements in technology, connectivity and automation.

Here’s a handful of facility manager skills that’ll be in high demand due, for the most part, by these advancements.

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