Over the course of the past few weeks, we have covered cooling towers and how they can serve as potential breeding grounds for Legionella bacteria. This appears to be the case in Long Island as a school district there announced that Legionella bacteria was found in the cooling towers at three of their schools.
According to the Sachem Central School District at Holbrook’s superintendent, James Nolan, the bacteria was detected in the cooling towers at Seneca, Sequoya and East schools after conducting scheduled testing in order to be in compliance with New York state regulations.
Once discovered, the cooling towers were immediately shut off with the disinfection being scheduled at the moment. Once complete, there will be monitoring of the cooling towers including retesting. Superintendent Nolan also noted that there are currently no reports of Legionnaires’ disease from any of the faculty, visitors, students, and/or staff associated with the buildings.
This incident is on top of a separate incident, when the Smithtown Central School District stated that cooling towers at the Smithtown East and West high schools had tested positive for Legionella bacteria. Like this discovery, the cooling towers in this previous discovery were brought offline and decontaminated after being found.
Clearly finding Legionella bacteria at schools is not exactly comforting however this particular example may actually be evidence of the importance and positive impact routine testing can make. Indeed if the testing had never been done, then the disinfection would have never occurred and the bacteria would have simply continued to remain within the cooling towers, potentially causing individuals associated with the school to contract Legionnaires’ disease.
As such, what this particular story may also be highlighting is a separate question; how often should testing occur? With the use of various new technologies and even the potential for smart buildings to do the testing, it is imaginable to foresee testing becoming a far more regular aspect of water system management, a prospect which may end up making everyone that much safer.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.