Legionella pneumophila is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a disease that attacks the lungs of infected individuals. The proliferation of Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease can be prevented through routine monitoring of water quality in building systems such as showers, pools, and cooling towers. Although Legionella bacteria does exist naturally in water bodies such as lakes and streams, it becomes a focus of public health attention when it enters water sources within buildings, where the conditions are ripe for bacteria growth (optimal temperature, ample ‘food’ sources, etc.) Legionella testing is essential for preventing outbreaks and monitoring areas where Legionella pneumophila can grow.
The risk of exposure to Legionella pneumophila is greatest in buildings with improperly maintained plumbing and building mechanical systems, as they provide the most hospitable environment for bacterial growth. Cooling towers which provide cooling for equipment and air conditioning have been responsible for several Legionella Outbreaks in Canada, including a particularly significant outbreak in 2018 in Surrey BC which resulted in 14 cases of the disease. This has led the City of Vancouver to implement a prevention strategy that includes routine testing requirements under a water systems operating permit.
As of January 1st, 2022, cooling towers operating under a permit in the City of Vancouver must be tested monthly for Legionella. Testing locations include cooling towers, decorative water features, non-potable water sources, and other similar building water systems. Additional testing is also recommended after a prolonged shutdown of the plumbing system to ensure that no contamination occurred during this period. These steps are an important aspect of a preventative maintenance strategy that considers not only the health of the system but also the health of the public. To learn more about the permitting process, click here to access the City of Vancouver’s guidance.
When selecting a laboratory for Legionella Testing, the City of Vancouver has highlighted (and CARO agrees!) that it is important to ensure your laboratory is following the necessary testing requirements and following good laboratory practices. This includes:
CARO Analytical Services is properly equipped to run Legionella testing following these requirements and is also included on the list of laboratories approved by the BC Provincial Health Officer.
In addition to Legionella pneumophila testing, CARO Analytical Services also offers a variety of water quality testing services, including the additional parameters outlined in the City of Vancouver guidance E. Coli and Turbidity. For more information or to request a quote for testing, send us an email at [email protected] or call our team directly: 1 (888) 311-8846.
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Additional handy references:
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