New York City has ordered building owners with cooling towers to submit long-range plans for ensuring they are not contaminated with the legionella bacterium.

AIHA Releases New Legionella Guideline

The association announced it Aug. 10, the same day the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported the outbreak in the Bronx has been contained.

The Legionnaires' disease outbreak in New York City has killed 12 people, all of whom had underlying medical conditions, with a total of 113 people diagnosed with the serious respiratory illness as of Aug. 10, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported. No new cases have been diagnosed since Aug. 3, no new deaths had been reported in the past six days, and the outbreak in the Bronx "has been contained," according to the Health Department.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association on Aug. 10 also announced the release of a new guideline on Legionella. Titled "Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems," it is a technical document for industry professionals that expands on the information provided in AIHA's publication "Field Guide for the Determination of Biological Contaminants in Environmental Samples," 2nd edition. The new guideline was authored and edited by William Kerbel, CIH; J. David Krause, Ph.D., MSPH, CIH; Brian G. Shelton, MPH; and John P. Springston, CIH, CSP, FAIHA.

"Other guidelines and standards are targeted at industry guidelines," Shelton said. "We came at this from a public health standpoint. This is the first guideline that takes a new, preventive approach, based on proven industrial hygiene principles to controlling the spread of Legionella."

The Health Department says New York City's drinking water supply and other water features, including fountains, shower heads, and pools, are safe throughout the city, While water towers and home air conditioners are unaffected by Legionella bacteria, the city has ordered building owners with cooling towers to submit long-term plans showing how they will maintain the towers to protect against any future growth of Legionella.

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