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An article from the Wall Street Journal elaborates on some investigations into Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the past 15 years. The results showed that the vast majority of outbreaks were caused by negligence on the part of maintenance employees who did not maintain biocides effectively, repair or change equipment on schedule, or did not adequately maintain the plumbing. These look like easily fixable problems, but it’s more complicated than it seems.
The guidelines for preventing Legionella are not standards, and there are virtually no laws requiring specific Legionella prevention. This means that companies can have a variety of different maintenance practices, and many of them may not include steps to prevent the proliferation of Legionella. Some companies may not have the money to afford a maintenance company whose services include Legionella prevention. This is where problems arise. Only New York has implemented a law regarding the cleaning of cooling towers, and it was only enacted in response to a massive outbreak in the Bronx which infected more than 120 people and killed 12. Clearly more steps need to be taken to ensure than an outbreak like the Bronx outbreak does not occur again.