An article written by John Mesenbrink from Contractor, an online resource for mechanical contracting, recently posted an article discussing issues raised at the Plumbing Industry Leaders Coalition (PILC) gathering in Washington, D.C. in late April. Individuals from the plumbing industry gather each year to examine issues such as Legionella standards, skilled worker shortage, dry drains research, U.S. water strategy, and other related topics.
One particularly intriguing topic was presented by Marc Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech, who talked about Legionella and changes in water chemistry among other topics.
In regards to Legionella, one mode of contention lies with choosing between preventing bacterial growth in electrical water heaters vs. conserving electricity. Utility companies have advertised that lowering temperature set-points for water heaters can reduce electricity costs, but improper water temperature maintenance creates a breeding ground for bacteria growth, including Legionella.
Legionella bacteria in particular are problematic due to the lack of awareness about its dangers. This bacteria can cause a deadly form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease in vulnerable populations including the immunocompromised, elderly, hospital patients, etc. Individuals can contract the illness in both the environment as well as in a hospital setting.
This conflict “at the Green Crossroads” is a difficult problem to answer, and according Mesenbrink, we are “in the middle of damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.”
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