A better way to prevent Legionella in cooling towers - by Sherry Rivera

October 27, 2015 - Green Buildings
Sherry Rivera, ENVIRRON Sherry Rivera, ENVIRRON

Legionella bacteria traced to and found in cooling towers have affected several areas of the Bronx, NY and North Carolina, worrying public health officials & producing much negative publicity. Do you want to keep your cooling towers safe, clean and free of Legionella? This is critical given the publicity, remediation costs and legal fees for those found to have Legionella. We share news of a better way for those willing to do something other than the same old and costly reactive measures.

We now know that current methods prove less, if not ineffective. Dr. Jay Varna, NYC deputy commissioner for Disease Control said the problem is that most people think of cleaning a cooling tower like a kitchen counter – scrub hard and it is good. One needs to be incredibly aggressive in dealing with this, he says.

The threat of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers remains very real. Many operators use chemicals to control this. However, these same chemicals prove harmful to the environment and to operators and are expensive, difficult to store, dispose of, and manage. A better way exists instead of total reliance on chemicals: the innovative application of ultraviolet technology set up appropriately to manage the microbial growth.

Why ultraviolet (UV) technology? All living organisms, including microbes, contain DNA. UV light penetrates the cell body of microorganisms, and renders the bacteria unable to reproduce in a non-chemical manner. By exposing microbes in the water of a cooling tower to UV, you assure their destruction. Environmentally safe Ultraviolet needs no operator licensing, proves effective on a wide variety of pathogens, operates continuously, offers low operating costs, significantly reduces the need for chemicals, and requires little maintenance. UV use – in conjunction with a Filtration system – results in a much cleaner system; it introduces constant suppression of microorganism growth at better levels than those achievable with chemicals.

The end results: A more efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly water treatment program; a very attractive payback period; and an effective treatment to prevent outbreak of Legionella.

Sherry Rivera is a LEED green associate at ENVIRRON, Rockeville Centre, N.Y.

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