New York outbreak leads to adoption of legionella standard

Cooling-tower owners required to create plan for equipment maintenance

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in July, which led to 12 deaths and more than 120 cases of infection, has prompted New York City Council to draw up legislation requiring cooling-tower owners to comply with part of ASHRAE’s newly published legionella standard.

Owners will have to create and file a plan to maintain equipment to comply with Section 7.2 of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.

The standard provides minimum legionellosis risk-management requirements for the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement and expansion of new and existing buildings, and their associated water systems and components.

‘Standard 188 was published just two months ago,’ said ASHRAE President, David Underwood. ‘Although the circumstances surrounding its use are tragic, ASHRAE is grateful that the standard is available to set requirements to manage risk of this bacteria. We are hopeful that other governments will follow the lead of the New York City Council to help safeguard public health.’

Michael Patton, a member of the ASHRAE committee that wrote Standard 188, addressed members of the New York City Council, and pointed out that the standard lists common tasks and steps for such things as new-system start-up and seasonal shutdowns, general system maintenance, water treatment, and disinfection plans.

‘Section 7 is very good by itself, but it doesn’t really address the whole idea of informing building owners and managers about how to put into place a plan for a whole building, and what it should contain,’ said Patton, urging adoption of the complete standard.

Underwood said ASHRAE would continue to push for the full standard to be adopted in New York City and across the US.