Understanding Legionella – Designing to Reduce Risk

Pontiac Fever. It’s got nothing to do with cars, and everything to do with Legionellosis, the disease caused by a pathogenic bacterium called Legionella pneumophila. Legionellosis or Legionnaire’s Disease preys on the elderly, the young and anyone with weakened immune systems.

The subsequent fallout can also be catastrophic to a facility and owner because the building can be forever associated with the problem. So, what can be done to make sure your facility is safe? Nothing can guarantee that Legionella or any other waterborne pathogen won’t show up in a facility. However, a prudent building owner can take steps to drastically reduce the probability of an outbreak and mitigate the fallout should the worst occur.

At this point, you may be thinking that your current or planned facility doesn’t have any of the features that would present a risk, and furthermore, you may not think that your occupants fall into a high risk category. If your building has human beings, you’re likely to have someone, at some point in time, who will be in the high-risk category. Common building items like showers, cooling towers, fountains, irrigation systems, and even drinking fountains, or any equipment that produces mist or atomized water, are at risk for the spread of Legionellosis.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188P-2015 outlines the buildings and systems that are most susceptible to developing favorable conditions for an outbreak, and gives risk reduction directions that apply to design, construction and operation. An engineering professional can help you decipher what is appropriate for your facility during design and point you in the right direction during an operation.

Don’t take risks with the design or renovation of your facility. Make sure your design professional understands not only comfort and energy efficiency, but also the necessity for the safety of your facility occupants. Barton Associates has the knowledge to reduce your exposure, specify the appropriate equipment and provide assistance from compliance specialists to help you make your facility safer. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen E. Oskin, PE, LEED AP at (814) 237-2180 or seo@ba-inc.com.