How to Implement Legionella Contamination in GSA Controlled Buildings A230072-1?

The Office of the Inspector General has put out a memorandum that PBS must take immediate action to address the risk of Legionella contamination in water systems across GSA-controlled (owned and leased) buildings.

They state that since July 11, 2023, elevated levels of Legionella bacteria (Legionella)—the primary cause of Legionnaires’ disease—was detected in water at six GSA-controlled buildings located across four different GSA regions. The current reduced building occupancy levels can lead to water stagnation, which provides ideal conditions for the growth and spread of Legionella and increases the likelihood that other buildings may be contaminated.

Legionella Contamination in Buildings

Legionella Bacteria can be found in small amounts in natural freshwater. However, if they grow and multiply in human-made water systems, they can become a health concern. Legionella can cause severe lung infections called Legionnaire’s disease. It is crucial to implement preventive measures against Legionella contamination in buildings to protect the health of occupants. Here’s a step-by-step guide to implementing effective Legionella contamination control:

Step 1: Identify Buildings at Increased Risk

The first step is to evaluate your building’s water systems to determine if they are at an increased risk for Legionella growth. Factors that increase the risk include:

  • Hot-water systems with temperatures between 20°C and 50°C (68°F and 122°F)
  • Dead-ends or stagnant water in the plumbing system
  • Low water flow
  • Presence of biofilms or corrosion in the water system

Step 2: Develop a Water Management Program

A comprehensive water management program is essential for preventing and controlling Legionella contamination. The program should include:

  • Regular temperature monitoring of hot and cold water
  • Maintenance of water heaters and cooling towers
  • Cleaning and disinfection of water systems
  • Regular testing for Legionella bacteria
  • Establishment of corrective actions if Legionella is detected

Step 3: Implement Control Measures

Control measures aim to reduce Legionella growth and spread in the water system. Common control measures include:

  • Maintaining hot-water temperatures at or above 50°C (122°F)
  • Keeping cold-water temperatures below 20°C (68°F)
  • Disinfecting water systems with chlorine or other approved disinfectants
  • Flushing dead-ends and stagnant water from the plumbing system
  • Cleaning and disinfecting water-using devices, such as showerheads and faucets

Step 4: Monitor and Evaluate

Regular monitoring and evaluation are crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of your Legionella contamination control program. This includes:

  • Regular temperature monitoring
  • Legionella testing
  • Review of control measures
  • Documentation of all activities

Step 5: Train and Educate Staff

Staff training and education are essential for ensuring that everyone involved in building maintenance understands the risks of Legionella contamination and how to implement proper control measures. This includes training on:

  • Legionella and its associated health risks
  • The water management program
  • Control measures
  • Monitoring and evaluation procedures

By implementing these steps, you can effectively prevent Legionella contamination in your buildings and protect the health of your occupants. ChemREADY is here to help you implement these steps. Contact us today if you require assistance with your facility.

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More about Legionella

Legionella is a bacteria that can cause a serious lung infection called Legionnaires' disease. It is found naturally in water, but can grow and spread in warm, stagnant water systems. Businesses that have water systems, such as hotels, hospitals, and office buildings, are at risk of Legionella contamination.
Legionella testing is performed to detect the presence of the bacteria in water. There are a number of different methods that can be used for Legionella testing. Learn about them in our article.
If Legionella is found in a commercial building's water system, it is important to take steps to remediate the problem. Learn about some of the methods that can be used for Legionella remediation.