Preventing the Next Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease

EDLabphoto.jpg

 

The recent major Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City that sickened at least 127 people and killed 12 could have been prevented. Multiple cooling towers in the South Bronx were found to be infected with Legionella bacteria. Regular service and maintenance would have eliminated the problem. But, it’s not just cooling towers that need to be maintained.

The first recognized outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was initiated in July 1976 following an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Attendees started to become sick, and several passed away. According to the New York Times, 221 individuals eventually became ill and 34 died.

By January 1977, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified Legionella bacteria as the cause and found it in the cooling tower of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, where the convention took place.

According to the CDC, Legionnaires’ disease is a severe pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. A milder, flu-like form of the disease is known as Pontiac fever. The two illnesses are also often referred to as legionellosis. People most at risk are older people, current and former smokers, those with chronic lung disease, and those with a weakened immune system. Death has been reported to occur in as many as 30 percent of Legionnaires’ disease cases.

The CDC notes that Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. These bacteria grow best in warm water often found in cooling towers, decorative fountains, hot tubs, hot water tanks, and large plumbing systems. People can contract Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or droplets containing the bacteria. The bacteria are not spread person-to-person.

Since Legionella are found naturally, Legionnaires’ disease is not limited to the U.S. Major outbreaks have also occurred in Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the U.K. The largest known outbreak occured in Spain.

CONDITIONS FAVORABLE FOR LEGIONELLA

Dr. Rajiv Sahay is lab director of Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab), a division of Pure Air Control Services in Clearwater, Florida. EDLab is a CDC Environmental Legionella Isolation Techniques Evaluation (ELITE)-certified lab for Legionella testing. Regarding conditions favorable for Legionella growth, Sahay said, “Aquatic habitats with temperatures ranging from 5.7° to 63°C and containing organic constituents (nutrients) are most favorable for the growth of Legionella species.”

Richard Gerbe, cofounder of Highmark in New York City, which operates multiple divisions focusing on HVAC, energy services, and water management, added that other favorable conditions include warm water stagnation, pH levels between 5.0 and 8.5, and sediment that tends to promote the growth of commensal microflora.

As for when outbreaks occur, Sahay said there are limited data available on periodicity of Legionella outbreaks. “However, a historical review indicates that summer months between July and August are more vulnerable than other times of the year in the U.S.”

CONTROLLING LEGIONELLA GROWTH

When it comes to cooling towers, Gerbe said: “The dust and debris that bacteria like to propagate in can be removed and kept out through proper maintenance, filtration, water treatment, and monitoring. This will control the growth of bacteria, such as Legionella, and ensure that outbreaks, such as Legionnaires’, are prevented.”

James T. Turrisi, president/CEO of Matco Service Corp. in Carle Place, New York, a commercial HVAC contractor serving New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, said, “Most cooling towers are maintained chemically by water treatment companies, and they are maintained mechanically by service companies, such as Matco.”

To perform mechanical maintenance on a cooling tower, it should be cleaned of all debris at startup, said Turrisi. “All nozzles should be cleaned and functional [if applicable]. Tower fill drift eliminators should be inspected and replaced, if necessary, to ensure proper heat transfer. Belt tension should be checked and changed, as needed [if applicable]. Gear box oil should be changed frequently, even at shutdown, to prevent condensation. If applicable, check the tower fan starter, contacts, overload relays, and magnetic coil. Make sure all strainers are cleaned frequently and all water treatment feeds are functional. Make sure fan blades are pitched properly.”

For cooling tower maintenance, Gerbe said, “The goal is to keep the unit as clean as possible.” To achieve this, he suggested a contractor “conduct ongoing inspections to identify any mechanical deficiencies; repair any mechanical issues a cooling tower may have — such as leaks and broken panels, fans, and infill — so it operates as designed; ensure drift eliminators are sufficient and functional; and perform regular cooling tower cleanings.”

Gerbe also recommends systematic filtration. “The cooling tower water must be filtered on a continuous basis to remove the debris at, or close to, the hypothetical rate of collection to impede build-up or accumulation.”

As for monitoring a cooling tower, Turrisi said, “Condenser water loops vary from building to building in terms of cleanliness. I think once a month is adequate.”

“Continuous automatic system monitoring and commissioning are necessary for both enhancing water quality and system performance,” said Gerbe.

Water treatment includes control of scale and biological contamination. Regarding the use of biocides, Philippe Boileau, a consulting chemist based in Montreal, said, “Biocides are ineffective if microbes are hiding inside the protection of mineral deposits. You have to clean first and then disinfect and decontaminate.

“Biocides do not work where they do not go,” continued Boileau. “Make sure to circulate everywhere when you inject a biocide. Coordinate with control people to make sure the required pumps are activated when and as long as required.” Also, he added, “Use as much as required, but no more than needed. Knowing the volume of the system, make sure you inject enough to reach the minimum required concentration for the minimum required contact time at given water conditions. When you inject in the middle of the day, where water demand is high, it’s possible your biocide will get diluted before it has the time to be efficient. Try injecting it right before evening hours, when demand is minimal and contact time is maximal, if you can.”

Boileau also noted one of the important aspects of cooling tower management is aerosol dispersion limitation — minimizing the number of droplets that could get into a person’s lungs. “Drift eliminators are important to limit aerosol dispersion. If there are no aerosols, there is no legionellosis.”

Mario Bellavance, founder of Blue Heron Cooling Tower Inc., Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, Canada, who now works on a consulting basis, said it’s important to inspect drift eliminators to check their condition. “Damaged sections can mean higher air velocities and more drifts in the air,” he said. “You also have to check the water distribution system and nozzles. Water can be splashed in the drift eliminators, which will result in higher risk.”

ASHRAE’S NEW LEGIONELLA STANDARD

Bill Pearson, vice president, consulting and technical services, Southeastern Laboratories, Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Association of Water Technologies (AWT) liaison to ASHRAE, worked on the development of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, “Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.”

Pearson said the new ASHRAE Standard 188 came from ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000, “Minimizing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems.” ASHRAE decided to expand the guideline into a standard.

Standard 188 references Guideline 12 because it provides guidance and recommendations that are beyond the scope of a standard. “The standard tells you what to do, but it doesn’t tell you how to do it,” said Pearson. The building owner and mechanical contractor should use Guideline 12 as well as follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and water treatment specialist’s recommendations. And, ASHRAE Standard 188 covers all building water systems, not just cooling towers.

Although cooling towers are usually named as the source for large Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, the annual number of cases caused by whirlpool spas, decorative fountains, and other building water systems is actually larger than the annual number of cases caused by cooling towers. “The vast number of Legionnaires’ disease cases are sporadic,” said Pearson. According to CDC data and many experts, he said, “The majority of cases — likely as many as 70-80 percent — are associated with building potable water systems versus cooling towers and other non-potable water systems.”

The CDC estimates 8,000 to 18,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease occur annually in the U.S., but because it’s a type of pneumonia and patients must be tested for Legionnaires’, “We really don’t know the actual number of cases,” Pearson said. Many think the CDC’s estimate “may only be 10 percent of the total cases.”

As for whether cooling towers should be tested specifically for Legionella, Pearson said he personally feels they should. “A total bacteria test doesn’t tell you if you have Legionella.”

Sahay agreed, stating testing should be done “periodically every six months due to the seasonality of water systems.”

On the other hand, Boileau said, “It’s better to test, in my view, for the conditions favorable to Legionella growth rather than test for Legionella pneumophila itself. Do you have a biofilm? Get rid of it.”

However, Pearson said, “You should not do Legionella testing without a plan of action.” You should focus on prevention, he said. And, if you find Legionella, you should have a plan in order to make decisions based on the specifics of the cooling tower or building water system to control legionellosis.

SIDEBAR: OUTBREAKS CONTINUE ACROSS THE US

In late August and early September, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Illinois Veteran’s Home in Quincy, Illinois. As of Oct. 1, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 54 cases of the disease and 12 deaths. The source of the outbreak had not yet been determined.

Also in late August and early September, a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak sickened more than 80 inmates at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California. On Oct. 1, the San Jose Mercury News reported that two contaminated cooling towers at the prison were being blamed for the outbreak.

And, in late September, another Legionnaires’ disease outbreak arose in New York City in the Bronx. As of Sept. 30, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported 13 people sickened and one dead. Cooling towers were again suspected as the source. Thirty-five cooling towers in the area were sampled for Legionella and 15 came back with positive results.

Article Source: http://www.achrnews.com/articles/130979-preventing-the-next-outbreak-of-legionnaires-disease

Builders respond to mold complaints in Parkland homes

Residents living in newly built homes in Parkland are complaining of mold, and at least two big builders have taken steps to fix the problem.

Sowande Johnson, director of development services for Parkland, said WCI Communities Inc. and Standard Pacific of Florida have been approved for permits to complete work that they hope will eliminate the fungus.

A third builder, Toll Brothers, has said it also plans to apply for a permit, Johnson said.

Those companies, along with Lennar Homes, are building hundreds of high-end homes in Parkland, the last available area for large-scale residential construction in Broward County. Johnson said he hasn’t heard of any problems with the Lennar properties.

Johnson said the city has received a few complaints, and he doesn’t have “even the slightest idea” how many homes may be affected.

WCI’s permit application outlines plans to install a dehumidifier, while Standard Pacific is using spray foam insulation. Johnson said it may take a few months to determine whether the proposed fixes will work.

“We’ll have to wait until things heat up [in the summer] to find out if it’s a true solution,” Johnson said. “If not, they’ll have to come back with another solution to remedy the problem.”

Jon Rapaport, division president for WCI, said the Bonita Springs-based builder received a “couple of dozen complaints” but not all of those homeowners had mold.

Still, out of an abundance of caution, WCI made modifications in more than 100 Heron Bay homes at no charge to the owners, he said.

Rapaport attributed the mold to a design issue. WCI sealed openings and made changes to ventilation that lets moisture leave attics. In addition, WCI is offering the dehumidifiers to homeowners, he said.

“We wanted to do the right thing,” Rapaport said. “Now we seem to not have a problem at all.”

WCI, expected to soon merge with Lennar as part of a $643 million deal, has built the vast majority of the nearly 3,000 homes in Heron Bay over the past two decades. The master-planned development, off the Sawgrass Expressway at Coral Ridge Drive, is one of the largest in the region.

Standard Pacific, which builds in the Watercrest at Parkland community, did not respond to requests for comment. In 2015, the company combined with Ryland Homes to form CalAtlantic Group of Irvine, Calif.

Horsham, Pa.-based Toll Brothers builds in the Parkland Golf & Country Club. A publicist for Toll said officials were not available to comment, but she released a statement from the company.

“Toll Brothers stands behind its homes with a comprehensive warranty and we work with our homeowners and provide them with information on operating their home systems efficiently and within their design criteria,” the statement said.

In 2015, Angela Mesa-Taylor moved into a rented home in Heron Bay’s Osprey Lake subdivison. Soon after, she noticed that she and her children were constantly sick, but she just thought it was her young twins bringing home coughs and colds from their play dates.

Then her housekeeper pointed to mold on the ceiling in the master bathroom. Another bathroom had the same problem, she said.

Mesa-Taylor said the builder, WCI, tried to address her concerns, but the mold persisted. Meanwhile, she said she heard similar complaints from neighbors.

Within days of discovering the mold, Mesa-Taylor said she moved her children out of the home and continued to press WCI for answers. Not satisfied with the results, she filed suit last summer in Broward County Circuit Court. The complaint was amended in November.

“Every fix was not a fix,” said Mesa-Taylor, 38. “It seemed to be very, very temporary and superficial.”

The suit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000, alleges that the mold was caused by design and construction defects and led to chronic health problems.

An attorney for the builder declined to discuss the case. Rapaport, the WCI division president, said he can’t comment on pending litigation.

Scott Gelfand, Mesa-Taylor’s Coral Springs lawyer, said he has spoken to more than 100 owners complaining of mold in Heron Bay homes built within the last several years. Some may be reluctant to discuss the problem publicly because they’re worried about property values, but homes that are properly remediated tend to sell for full market value, he said.

Johnson, the development services director for Parkland, said he suspects mold is occurring in other homes across Florida. But Truly Burton, executive vice president of the Builders Association of South Florida, said she isn’t aware of an ongoing problem statewide.

David Cobb, a former homebuilder and now a regional director for the Metrostudy research firm, agrees that mold is common in a humid climate and often is the result of workmanship issues.

But Cobb also cited another cause: improper home maintenance. He said homeowners should inspect homes annually, caulking around windows and doors and painting every few years to keep mold at bay.

“People who buy new homes say, ‘It’s new, so I don’t have to do anything to it,’ and that is totally incorrect,” Cobb said.

Article Source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/real-estate/fl-parkland-homes-mold-20170113-story.html

Why it’s a Good Idea to Use a Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional

Why it’s a Good Idea to Use a Certified
Indoor Air Quality Professional

 

It is critical that homeowners who have experienced a flood (or even what appears to be a small amount of water intrusion) employ the services of a Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional to ensure the home will be brought back to the state it was before any water intrusion.

Why hire a Certified IAQ Professional?
A Certified Professional has a wealth of tools and technologies, such as infra-red cameras and moisture meters. These help source out potential hidden moisture, which can be difficult to detect with the naked eye or by touch.

Why does hidden moisture need to be found?
All building materials have a dry moisture content range, generally between 8 to 12 percent. Moisture content in the range of 17 to 20 percent may appear to the look and feel to be dry. However, it is still wet enough to cause tremendous mold growth and contamination that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Why is flood water intrusion so serious?
Flood waters are classified as Category 3 Water Intrusion. This means that the water can contain sewage, bacteria, and other dangerous contaminates that can get absorbed into walls, structural framing, and contents. All porous and semi-porous building materials need to be removed and discarded. A Certified IAQ Professional can ensure that this is done properly.

 

For more information on how IAQ professionals can help with flood damage, visit

  • HOME
  • RESOURCES
  • WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO USE A CERTIFIED INDOOR AIR QUALITY PROFESSIONAL

Share This PageWhy it’s a Good Idea to Use a Certified
Indoor Air Quality Professional
By Steve Levy

It is critical that homeowners who have experienced a flood (or even what appears to be a small amount of water intrusion) employ the services of a Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional to ensure the home will be brought back to the state it was before any water intrusion.

Why hire a Certified IAQ Professional?
A Certified Professional has a wealth of tools and technologies, such as infra-red cameras and moisture meters. These help source out potential hidden moisture, which can be difficult to detect with the naked eye or by touch.

Why does hidden moisture need to be found?
All building materials have a dry moisture content range, generally between 8 to 12 percent. Moisture content in the range of 17 to 20 percent may appear to the look and feel to be dry. However, it is still wet enough to cause tremendous mold growth and contamination that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Why is flood water intrusion so serious?
Flood waters are classified as Category 3 Water Intrusion. This means that the water can contain
sewage, bacteria, and other dangerous contaminates that can get absorbed into walls, structural framing, and contents. All porous and semi-porous building materials need to be removed and discarded. A Certified IAQ Professional can ensure that this is done properly.

 

For more information on how IAQ professionals can help with flood damage, visit www.iaqa.org/storm-damage-resources.

 

IAQA Los Angeles Mold Meeting

IAQA Los Angeles - Certified Mold Inspectors and Environmental Professionals Indoor Air Quality Association Meeting Los Angeles Sept. 2016 Providing Continuing Education Units

Join the IAQA Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter

Indoor Air Quality Association General Meeting

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

 LOCATION

Armstrong Hall

2400 N. Canal
Orange, CA 92865

 

DATE AND TIME

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

7:30 – 11:30 am

 

COST

IAQA Members: $50
Non-members: $65

20% of net proceeds will be donated to Ride for Kids.

SCHEDULE:

7:30 – 8:00 am Breakfast with coffee and juices
8:00 – 8:20 am Opening remarks
8:20 – 9:10 am Presentation by John Chadwell
9:10 – 9:25 am Break
9:25 – 10:15 am Presentation by Derrick Denis
10:15 – 10:30 am Break
10:30 – 11:30 am Presentation by Alan Johanns
Los Angeles Certified Mold Inspector IAQA Courses for Continuing Education 2016
 LOCATION

Armstrong Hall

2400 N. Canal
Orange, CA 92865

 

DATE AND TIME

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

7:30 – 11:30 am

 

COST

IAQA Members: $50
Non-members: $65

20% of net proceeds will be donated to Ride for Kids.

  

REGISTRATION

Please send your registration and payment form to Nicole Adams at nadams@falaboratories.com.

We accept checks, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.

72 hour cancellation policy.

  

CONTINUING EDUCATION

Earn one (1) renewal credit from ACAC with documented attendance for this workshop.

  

FUTURE MEETINGS

November 9, 2016
7:30am – 11:30am

PRESENTATIONS:

“Active Shooter Primer” – John Chadwell
We will cover some society contributing factors (technology vs human interaction), past and most recent events, where the attackers (threats) are coming from; what mitigation steps can be done, what options exist during an event, how to effectively respond (run, hide, fight). A few other details will be addressed as well.

 

“‘Sii Preparato’ – Ready Yourself for Your Worst Day” – Derrick Denis
Focus on what YOU, THE INDIVIDUAL can do to make a difference in protecting your safety and the safety of those around you on a daily basis. It will challenge common myths misconceptions. It will modify the perspective of the group. I will provide practical and tactical tips and tricks to assess, avoid and confront deadly situations. The content will be sobering and immediately empowering.

 

“The California $1.1 BILLION Dollar Lead Lawsuit Settlement” – Alan Johanns
On January 7, 2014, the Honorable James P. Kleinberg of the Santa Clara Superior Court issued a Statement of Decision finalizing his December 2013 ruling that three lead paint companies created a public nuisance by concealing the dangers of lead, pursued a campaign against regulation of lead and actively promoted lead for use in homes, despite knowing that lead paint was highly toxic. The Court ruled in favor of the People of the State of California. Defendants against whom judgment is entered, jointly and severally, shall pay to the State of California $1,150,000,000 (One Billion One Hundred Fifty Million Dollars). 10 cities and counties will share this fund amount, of which over $600 Million will go to LA County.

Learn how your firm, can participate in the fund disbursements through remediation, consulting, and laboratory services. The funds have to be used by 2019. Join Alan Johanns from the California Health Housing Coalition for this presentation and background information in growing your business

IAQA Los Angeles

IAQA Los Angeles meeting for Certified Mold Inspectors and Environmental Professionals

IAQA Los Angeles Meeting - Contact Us

12 + 4 =

IAQA Meeting Los Angeles Sept. 2016 Continuing Education Units for Certified Mold Inspectors and Environmental Professionals ACAC Credits

IAQ Training Courses June 2016

indoor air quality training courses june 2016

lAQA Approved Training Schedule 2016

IAQ Training Courses – Earn CEU’s

June 14-15 – Chicago, IL (Roselle)

June 20-21 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

July 12-13 – St. Louis, MO

July 27-28 – Salem, NH

Sept 19-20 – Kansas City, MO

Oct 17-18 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

Nov 1-2 – Philadelphia, PA (Langhorne)

Dec 5-6 – Greenville, SC

 

June 14-16 – Chicago, IL (Roselle)

June 20-22 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

July 12-14 – St. Louis, MO

July 27-29 – Salem, NH

Sept 19-21 – Kansas City, MO

Oct 17-19 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

Nov 1-3 – Philadelphia, PA (Langhorne)

Dec 5-7 – Greenville, SC

 

Fundamentals Level
(Residential)
Intermediate Level
(Commercial)
June 20-22 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

Sept 19-21 – Kansas City, MO

Oct 17-19 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

Dec 5-7 – Greenville, SC

June 23-24 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

Sept 22-23 – Kansas City, MO

Oct 20-21 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

Dec 8-9 – Greenville, SC

 

Oct 20-22 – Champion, PA (7 Springs Resort)

 

The IAQ Training Institute courses are taught by leading industry professionals and include significant hands-on components with each course.

To register, call (866) 427-4727 or visit www.iaqtraining.com

IAQ Training Institute, LLC | 333 South Shore Trail | Central City, PA 15926

 

SB 655 CA Mold Law

Join the IAQA Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter

for
SB 655 CA Mold Law Industry Panel
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

LOCATION:  Armstrong Hall, 2400 N. Canal, Orange, CA 92865

REGISTRATION for SB 655 CA Mold Law
Please send checks, addressed to:
LA/Orange County Indoor Air Quality Association,
Attn: Bill Bohning, Encorp,
16700 Valley View Ave # 100,
La Mirada, CA 90638.

COST
IAQA Members: $50
Non-members: $65            Checks, Visa, MasterCard, Discovery are accepted prior to conference.

Payment less than 10 days before event will be $60.00-IAQA/ASHRAE Members, $75.00 Non-IAQA/ASHRAE Members

CONTINUING EDUCATION
Earn four (4) renewal credits from ACAC with documented attendance for this workshop.

SB 655 CA Mold Law Join Landlords, Owners, Property Management Professionals, Consultants, Regulators and Code Enforcement as they come together to present information on SB655 and what effects it will have on the rental community. Speakers include:
•    Alan Johnanns – California Healthy Housing Coalition
•    Amanda Jaeger – Code Compliance Officer – City of Santee
•    Ed Cross – Attorney – Edward H Cross & Associates, PC
•    Bruce White – Vice President – American Environmental Specialists
Breakfast, coffee, juices will be available at the event. For more information contact Bruce White at bruce@aeshb.com

15% of the proceeds will be donated to Got Your Back, fighting childhood hunger. For more information you can access their website at www.gotyourbacksd.org.

SB 655 CA Mold Law

improving indoor air quality for everyone

IndoorAirQualityAssociation - SB 655 CA Mold LawIAQA’s membership is made up of individuals and companies, including contractors, consultants, facility maintenance professionals, industry vendors, school officials, and representatives from state and federal government agencies. You’ll have access to a full-time professional staff at IAQA Headquarters that often assists members with special projects and problems. IAQA membership dues are remarkably affordable and include an enormous array of benefits.

Continuing Education
IAQA courses, chapter workshops, online classes, webinars and the annual meeting typically qualify for continuing education credits towards certification renewal by industry certifying bodies. With IAQA membership, you can fulfill virtually all of your continuing educational requirements.

Pin It on Pinterest