Should Universities Take Legionella Bacteria Samples?

Recent news have reported exposure to Legionella bacteria in a college campus as well as highlighted universities that have proactively monitored and remediated for Legionella bacteria ahead of campus return. Universities are committed to keeping students safe, happy, and healthy. Testing for Legionella bacteria and having a Water Management Program which outlines water system maintenance procedures are both important ways to achieve this goal. Below are some reasons explaining why.

– Water systems on college campuses are prone to stagnant water 

Stagnant water encourages the buildup of biofilm and promotes the growth of Legionella bacteria. College campuses are unique because their facilities usually go through regular periods of limited use, especially over the summer months. It is particularly important for college campuses to have a plan to regularly prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria due to stagnant water and to sample for Legionella bacteria before introducing students back into on-campus housing.

– Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease

Although young adults are a typically healthy population, college students experience a number of stressful situations which can impair their immune system. Some of these situations include moving into a new place and studying for final exams. The erratic and often scarce sleep schedule of many college students can also contribute to a weaker immune system, increasing risk of disease from Legionella bacteria.

– College campuses are population dense

If high levels of Legionella bacteria are present in the water systems on campus, many students may be exposed to the bacteria and contract the illness. This is partially due to the fact the college students often live in very close quarters and therefore share the same water piping system. If the source of the bacteria was from a cooling tower, the entire campus community would be exposed to harmful bacteria due to the cooling tower drift that can carry bacteria for several miles. Exposure from a cooling tower on a campus may impact the surrounding community as well.

Barclay Water Management’s Environmental Group produces Water Management Programs that comply with the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2021, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems. Our team also specializes in testing services for Legionella bacteria in potable and non-potable water systems. Contact Us today to learn how we can help you minimize the risk of Legionella bacteria at your University.

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