Looking Out for Legionnaire’s Disease

While the entire nation focuses on addressing the impacts of COVID-19, health experts have also warned of another potential health threat, especially for shuttered establishments like factories, hotels and malls- Legionnaire’s Disease.

A severe, and sometimes lethal, form of pneumonia, Legionnaire’s Disease may be traced to buildings that have not seen any use for prolonged periods of time. With the lack of use, water also becomes stagnant inside the pipes creating ripe conditions for bacteria to form.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in America, “standing water can cause conditions that increase the risk for growth and spread of Legionella and other biofilm-associated bacteria.” Additionally, when water has stagnated for long intervals, disinfectants such as chlorine can yield lower or even undetectable levels allowing microorganisms to promulgate.

Fortunately, there is a very simple solution to this health concern. Flushing water for about a minimum of 20- 30 minutes through all points of use will ensure that properly treated water will flow into the pipelines of your establishment, and rid your system of any harmful bacteria. The CDC recommends carrying out the flushing in segments, like floor to floor, or room to room, especially for larger buildings and structures.

Additionally, the health agency also suggests implementing the following additional measures to further prevent any infections caused by Legionnaire’s Disease:

  1. Clean all decorative water features, such as fountains.
    1. Be sure to follow any recommended manufacturer guidelines for cleaning
    2. Ensure that decorative water features are free of visible slime or biofilm
    3. After the water feature has been re-filled, measure disinfectant levels to ensure that the water is safe for use
  2. Ensure safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are clean and well-maintained
    1. Regularly flush, clean, and disinfect these systems according to manufacturers’ specifications
  3. Regularly check the SUBICWATER Facebook page and website to learn about any recent disruptions in the water supply.
  4. After your water system has returned to normal, ensure that the risk of Legionella growth is minimized by regularly checking water quality parameters such as temperature, pH, and disinfectant levels.
  5. Follow your water management program, document activities, and promptly intervene when problems arise.

While SUBICWATER guarantees that all the water that comes from its treatment plants undergoes the proper disinfection process, it is more difficult to assess the quality of the water especially the ones that have been stuck in the pipelines of establishments for extended periods of time. As such, we also suggest conducting the recommended water action plan of the CDC to ensure the health and safety of the businesses and communities in the Subic Bay Freeport and Olongapo City.

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