New York City Council has just instructed every building in the city with a cooling tower to run an evaluation and disinfection programme after an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in the South Bronx area of New York left 12 people dead. The outbreak has been linked to a tower on a 2 storey building.
Coming in the middle of August, this instruction has severely taxed the resources of the limited numbers of companies who specialise in cooling towers – and who tend to use their staff for maintenance of other equipment such as boiler plant during summer months. The city is home to thousands of cooling towers, many of which one hopes will have been well maintained and pose no risk to the public.
According to the New York Times, the mayor is proposing new legislation that will mandate all buildings to register their cooling towers and undergo routine inspections. Whilst this has been reported as “making New York one of the first places to have such a rule”, notification has been required in the UK since 1992 (The Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations).
Legionnaires disease is a severe form of Pneumonia, mainly affecting people with an impaired immune system and caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila which is widely found in the natural environment. Under certain conditions the bacteria may grow and multiply, increasing the risk of infection.
Ingleton Wood can advise on Legionella risks and cooling tower installations.