Engineering Staff at the Forefront of Patient Safety

In hospitals and healthcare facilities, the responsibility to clean and maintain HVAC systems goes beyond just keeping the equipment from breaking down. HVAC maintenance can involve serious health concerns, especially for those working in buildings where the occupants may be sick or have weakened immune systems. In 2014 the CDC published its major Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Study noting that in 2011 there were roughly 722,000 cases of HAI’s in U.S. hospitals, and about 75,000 of those patients died. 2011 was a wakeup call and the survey prompted increased precautions on the part of designers and maintenance staff regarding hospital infection control. Now, nearly all large clinics and hospitals have infection control plans that include standards for HVAC maintenance and construction. The CDC’s “Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities” has infection control requirements related to cooling towers, air handlers, ductwork, and water treatment and can be used as a guideline for local facilities.

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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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Recording Available! Webinar: Preventative Maintenance for Cooling Tower Systems

Cooling tower maintenance is a crucial part of facility maintenance. A poorly maintained cooling tower can have a negative impact on public health, overall system efficiency and operational costs. In order to provide education on this important topic, Goodway Technologies  hosted a free webinar discussing the impact of neglecting cooling towers and providing tips on how to execute preventative maintenance. The webinar, “Preventative Maintenance for Cooling Tower Systems” is available to view now.

View the webinar here.

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Infographic-Cooling Tower Maintenance: How To Guide

Did you know that drift, small water droplets, from a contaminated cooling tower can carry Legionella and other bacteria up to 2 miles from your facility? These cooling tower maintenance and cleaning steps, along with Goodway’s cooling tower products, will help keep your facility and cooling towers clean, safe, energy efficient and help you meet ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015!

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Webinar: Preventative Maintenance for Cooling Tower Systems

Cooling tower maintenance is a crucial part of facility maintenance. A poorly maintained cooling tower can have a negative impact on public health, overall system efficiency and operational costs. In order to provide education on this important topic, Goodway Technologies is hosting a free webinar discussing the impact of neglecting cooling towers and providing tips on how to execute preventative maintenance. The webinar, “Preventative Maintenance for Cooling Tower Systems” will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 2 p.m. EST. Register for the free webinar here.

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Infographic-Cooling Tower Maintenance: How Do You Compare?

A healthy cooling tower is essential for the health of your personnel and the public, as well as the longevity and efficiency of your equipment. Wonder how you compare to other facility managers and personnel when it comes to cooling tower maintenance? Download our infographic to find out!

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Goodway’s Ray Field and CDC’s Nancy Messonnier, MD on How Your Facility can Best Prevent Legionella Outbreaks

It’s likely that most facility managers in New York City have already heard the news this week about a police officer infected with Legionnaire Disease (LD). A poorly maintained water supply system at his police station was the likely source for a widespread disease that’s seen a quadrupling of reported cases in the last 15 years.

Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks Trending Up

As the summer heat begins to put a strain on facility cooling towers, more facility-triggered outbreaks are likely to follow. According to Ray Field, Director of Goodway Liquid Solutions, the upward trend in outbreaks will likely continue over the next few years as sub-standard maintenance practices, the wrong maintenance tools and shrinking maintenance budgets continue to hamper progress.  In a related podcast entitled Legionella Outbreaks: Preventive Maintenance Practices and Chemical Solutions to Minimize Risk of Occurrence, Ray discusses the challenges facility managers face when battling the resilient bacteria.

“What it comes down to is good industrial hygienic practices,” Field says. “And if you look at cooling towers, in my estimation, they can be neglected in terms of care or maintenance up front when they’re started, in terms of washing them down, getting rid of scale accumulation in the tower fill that causes the air/water intimate contact that causes the cooling with the fan. Both chemical and mechanical solutions are really the best way to approach it, followed by a well-maintained water treatment program.” This is consistent with statements in the recent American National Standards Institute approved ASHRAE Standard 188 – 2015 entitled “Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.”

Just recently, the CDC arrived at a similar conclusion after analyzing 2,809 confirmed LD cases reported from 20 states and NYC. The report summarized that the number one way for facility managers to mitigate LD risk is to better manage and maintain the building’s water supply system. The study also revealed that roughly 80% of LD outbreaks in facilities were preventable and healthcare facilities in particular were more susceptible due, in part, to their more vulnerable populations and more complex water supply systems.

Here are three additional takeaways from the study:

• Legionella grows well in building water systems that are not adequately managed such as those in which disinfectant levels are low or water temperatures are warm.
• The size and complexity of the facility’s water system may increase the risk for Legionella growth.
• Effective water management and maintenance programs are highly recommended to prevent Legionella growth in buildings with large or complex water systems.

Facility Water System Components Susceptible to Legionella Growth

Legionella can grow in parts of building water systems that are continually wet, and certain devices can spread contaminated water droplets via aerosolization. Examples of these system equipment, components and devices include:

  • Cooling towers
  • Hot and cold water storage tanks
  • Water heaters
  • Water-hammer arrestors
  • Pipes, valves, and fittings
  • Expansion tanks
  • Water filters
  • Electronic and manual faucets
  • Aerators
  • Faucet flow restrictors
  • Shower heads and hoses
  • Centrally-installed misters, atomizers, air washers, and humidifiers
  • Non-steam aerosol-generating humidifiers
  • Eyewash stations
  • Ice machines
  • Hot tubs/saunas
  • Decorative fountains

How to Implement a Water Supply Management and Maintenance Program

To help facility managers and building owners prevent future outbreaks, the CDC also prepared a comprehensive thirty-six page water supply management guide to implementing industry standards. Facility managers who have previously implemented a risk management system will be familiar with its structure and the recommended stages:

  • Describe your building, its use and occupants, the plumbing and water handling equipment, with special attention to dead-legs or low flow areas, and outlets that form droplets
  • Analyze your water system to identify points where Legionella might grow due to suitable temperatures, or post-heating destruction of disinfectant, increased contaminants or other factors.

Here’s a helpful building water supply system flow diagram provided in the guide:

Working Smarter and OutSmarting Bacteria

Cooling tower and other equipment susceptible to bacteria growth (hot tubs, showers, fountains, air conditioning) may require a complete shut-down that takes time, inconveniences patrons and costs money.  However, “clean-in-place” (CIP) maintenance solutions may drastically decrease the time, labor and burden of maintaining a water supply management program. For example, with the Goodway Cooling Tower Vacuum there’s no need to drain the tower – you can clean it while the tower is still online. Cooling demand is not interrupted, nor is the comfort of occupants. CIP solutions are typically more efficient and effective when compared to non-CIP solutions. For example, Goodway’s TFC-200 Cooling Tower Fill Cleaner used with a ScaleBreak Gel Descaler begins dissolving scale and grime from cooling tower fill on contact. This low viscosity acidic product is formulated specifically to adhere to and descale mineral deposits from cooling tower fill.

Final Thoughts: Clean Upfront

Whether a facility manager is in charge of an enormous water supply system or a modest system, cleaning up front takes priority over establishing a water supply program. In other words, basic preventive maintenance (PM) as equipment comes online for the first time or back online for the season must be your first step. That means using vacuums, pressure washers and the proper chemicals to safely and effectively remove scale.

Remember, your upfront PM should consider chemical and mechanical solutions that minimize labor costs and maximize effectiveness. Only then do you follow up with a well-maintained, measurable water management and treatment program. 

Next Steps:

 

Let’s Talk Legionella with Ray Field, Director of Liquid Solutions

ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 has everyone in the industry raising the subject on the most effective way to manage Legionella, including more comprehensive cooling tower maintenance strategies and how these can promote better IAQ. This September 12th – 14th, at the upcoming ASHRAE IAQ Conference, Ray Field, Director of Goodway Liquid Solutions, will discuss a five-step preventative maintenance program that answers some of the most common cooling tower questions facility managers and contractors have when combating Legionella and improving IAQ for more efficient HVAC systems.

Goodway_Ray_Field“Putting together a maintenance plan and developing proper procedures is no longer optional. Managers need to take these steps now to minimize the risks of an outbreak occurring in a facility.”

– Ray Field, Director of Liquid Solutions

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Studies have shown that 40 – 60 percent of cooling towers test positive for Legionella. Early detection and action can prevent rapid growth and spreading, but deferred Legionella maintenance can only reduce the performance of system equipment even more – causing higher energy expenses, irreparable equipment breakdowns, or costly replacements.

Check out this related content:

Owners of these human occupied buildings and those involved in the design, construction, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and service of centralized water building systems are held responsible for outbreaks and are currently holding the lives of its pedestrians in their hands. Don’t drop the ball on proper cooling tower cleaning. Learn what can be done to control the growth of Legionella in HVAC systems and prevent risking the health of others in the community.

For more information on the conference and how to register, click here.

 

6 Things You Should Know About Legionella

Just last August, about 120 people in the South Bronx were infected with Legionnaires’ Disease and 12 people died. At the time, up to 5 cooling towers in the area tested positive for Legionella, a fatal bacteria that grows in warm, damp environments and can spread once contaminated water has become aerosolized and the vapor is inhaled.

In this post, we’ll be discussing where Legionella can be found and in our infographic, we’re sharing 6 things you should know about this hazardous bacteria.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), temperatures of 32°C-40°C (90°-105°F) are ideal for growth and rust, scale and the presence of other microorganisms also promote growth. Legionella can occur in any location where water is warm and has potential to become aerosolized or misted. 

Some environments where Legionella can be found are in:

Legionella Goodway •  Cooling towers
•  Hot water tanks
•  Large air conditioning systems
•  Humidifiers
•  Whirlpool spas
•  Hot water systems
•  Ice making machines

During last year’s Legionella outbreaks in the South Bronx, large cooling towers from local hotels, hospitals, and educational facilities were found to be responsible for contaminating the outdoor air quality and infecting the community. “The scary part of it is that 40% to 60% of cooling towers, through different studies, have shown that they’re positive for Legionella,” said Ray Field, Chemical Expert, during a podcast last year discussing the issue.

Find out more about Goodway Cooling Tower Cleaning Solutions.

There are several other important things you should know about Legionella before tackling sick cooling towers that may be infected. View our infographic to see 6 more facts about Legionella.

Next steps:

Download Goodway’s 6 Facts About Legionella infographic containing information from trusted Legionella sources here.

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Air Quality: Laudable Effort or Legal Expectation?

Issue of Outdoor Air Quality for HVAC IndustryAre companies responsible for reduced outdoor air quality caused by infected or dirty cooling towers? As it stands, citizens have no legal expectation of clean air. With urban pollution rising and environmental litigation becoming a viable option, however, businesses need to think twice about the outside impact of poorly maintained cooling systems.

Urban Issues

Pollution in metropolitan centers has been on the rise for decades. Now, citizens and watchdog groups are taking action in hopes of improving outdoor air quality. It’s a significant concern; as noted by the World Health Organization (WHO), outdoor air pollution contributes to 6.7 percent of all deaths.

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