Cooling Towers In CBD & High Legionella Count

Published: Fri 28 Dec 2007 05:09 PM
Cooling Towers In CBD Have High Legionella Count
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has advised Auckland City Council that routine tests of several air conditioning cooling towers in buildings in the CBD have identified a high legionella count in one of these buildings.
Legionella is a bacteria which can cause Pontiac Fever, Legionellis and Legionnaire's disease.
John Duthie, acting Chief Executive of Auckland City Council said the building owner moved quickly to have the cooling towers cleaned up.
"In the last 24 hours we have been advised that another building has tested with high levels of the bacteria. In both cases, we are advised, the buildings' owners have informed their tenants."
"Auckland City Council and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS), an arm of the Auckland District Health Board, are working together to address the situation. "
Mr Duthie said that the city council is advising all CBD building owners to take the precautionary step of testing for legionella.
"There are no reports of anyone having fallen ill with the diseases caused by legionella bacteria, but we ask that this testing be done before the next due date. Single isolated cases are ordinarily resolved with the assistance of the affected building owner. The reason for this public announcement is due to the second instance of this bacteria. The two buildings with high levels may be a coincidence, but the council and the Regional Public Health Service need the data to make a judgement as to whether or not there is cause for greater concern."
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) advises that there is a low risk to peoples' health following positive results for Legionella bacteria from routine monthly testing of several cooling towers in the Auckland CBD.
Appropriate corrective action has been taken at the affected cooling towers, in line with Australian/New Zealand Standards 3666 (thorough cleaning, disinfection with chlorine, and re-testing). ARPHS is working closely with the Auckland City Council and the Department of Labour to determine the extent of the problem, and whether other cooling towers in the CBD are affected. ARPHS commends those building owners who have reported their results and taken prompt corrective action.
ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, Dr Cathy Pikholz says, "The risk that this could cause illness is small, and people should go about their usual business in the CBD. People are advised to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms suggestive of Legionellosis".
Mr Duthie said that Auckland City Council is asking that building owners test outside of their standard cycle and take the necessary action: chlorinate their systems, retest and report their results to us and the ARPHS.
"The ARPHS and Auckland City Council are asking building owners in the Auckland CBD to make sure that their testing records are up to date and to chlorinate their cooling towers with an extra dose of chlorine. This is a relatively simple procedure, but it is governed by an Australasian standard and should be done by a skilled contractor."
"The actions the ARPHS, Auckland City Council and the Department of Labour are co-operating in are a pre-cautionary response to a low level of risk," Mr Duthie said.

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