Earlier this week, we wrote about Spartan Bioscience and how the company had partnered with the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to conduct a study examining cooling towers at federal government buildings. The results from the test were a bit negative as it was revealed that around 39% of the cooling towers had tested positive for Legionella bacteria at levels greater than 10 bacteria per milliliter while approximately 8% of the cooling towers tested positive for Legionella levels that were greater than 100 bacteria per milliliter.
Now, about a week later from when the initial results were revealed, the PSPC is coming forward and suggesting that the data used to come to these results may, in fact, be unreliable. Instead, PSPC is now relying on its own traditional testing methods, which in the study, had showed lower levels with the highest levels found never even reaching hazardous levels like what Spartan had indicated.
According to the assistant deputy minister of PSPC, Kevin Radford, “We support innovation through this Build In Canada Innovation Program, but that test procedure is innovative. It isn’t commercially available. It is meant to test the actual methodologies,” adding that the current PSPC’s testing methods “meet or exceed” any within North America.
PSPC was originally interested in Spartan for its fast technology, which can provide results in 45 minutes instead of days or even weeks. Once the study was complete, PSPC sent over Spartan’s report to Health Canada along with the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, both of which apparently suggested the technology needed more testing. In addition Radford added that there are measures in the rooftops in order to keep water vapour from leaving the cooling towers and going into air intakes. As such, they argue that while some towers may have bacteria like Legionella, it doesn’t mean that the bacteria will be in the building’s air.
Meanwhile the CEO of Spartan Bioscience, Paul Lem, suggested that his firm’s DNA testing is in fact better than what PSPC is using. According to Lem, “It is well known in the industry that legionella culture is a terrible test. It has very poor performance,” and that Spartan “showed in our study that all the bacteria are dying (on the way to the lab) 60 per cent of the time,”.
On this subject of the effectiveness of the Spartan Bioscience on-site tests and furthermore, the actual levels of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers around Canada’s federal government buildings, it appears clear as though Spartan and the PSPC disagree. Regardless of the details of the disagreement, hopefully individuals will at least review the cooling towers once more; indeed for there to be such disagreement from the results Spartan got to the ones PSPC warrants another examination in order to ensure no one is at risk.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.