Today I received a very nice “you blew it!” from
Steve Austin of Glasgow, United Kingdom!
Steve wrote me today about my Friday blog entry about Legionella bacteria
and Legionnaire’s Disease. In the entry, I pointed out that — as a
Legionnaire’s Disease lawyer — I know that “Legionella can breed when air conditioners,
pools, or whirlpools are not properly cleaned. It also can be distributed
through poorly designed buildings or cooling systems that direct contaminated
water droplets directly into the air that people breathe.”
Steve Austin said I was right. He told me he completely agrees that: “Legionella
becomes dangerous when it is allowed to breed in the warm, stagnant water
of cooling towers and whirlpools.”
But Steve also pointed out – very nicely, I might add – “You
missed another major valid cause domestic systems, e.g., systems that
feed hot and cold water within buildings for taps/showers. I have identified
deadlegs and plants with no non return valves which hold stagnate water
and contaminate buildings.”
Great point, Steve!
Absolutely, legionella bacteria may breed due to valves and water system
designs that allow stagnate water to collect and contaminate the whole building.
In fact, I have had several people contact me who contracted Legionnaire’s
Disease from showers and taps that feed hot and cold water, just as Steve
suggested. One woman had ended up desperately ill after she had been exposed
to legionella in a hot tub situated in the hotel room she had rented in
the Tennessee mountains. The system had a crazy design that created the
problem in the first place.
Steve notes that he has carried out in excess of 1500 building risk assessments.
I thought it was very important the he told me that when legionella contamination
occurs, he agrees that “90% are as you said down to bad system design
and improper maintenance.”
By the way, Steve Austin is the real deal. (And no, he’s not the
wrestler!) Steve is the Operation Manager Environmental at
SPIE Matthew Hall FM in the UK. He has been investigating Legionnaire’s Disease cases
for 20 years. His entire job is “developing and growing the control
of legionella within the Spie Matthew Hall group.” He is particularly
interested in “the new designs of water systems and the common problems
they produce in the modern building and produce solutions to eradicate
these without the need of masking the faults with chlorine dioxide.”
SPIE Matthew Hall operates out of numerous locations in the UK to provide
design, installation, maintenance and facilities management related to
health, safety and the environment.
Thanks, Steve, for your very pertinent comment! I really appreciate your
taking the time to comment about what I had written.
Since I began looking at Legionnaire’s Disease cases, the death rate
has dropped dramatically. My opinion is that the difference is due to
infectious disease doctors who are now on the lookout for the disease.
Even so, 12% of the people who contract Legionnaire’s Disease will
die. An even larger percentage of elderly people will die because they
were exposed to legionella. With those sorts of statistics, as a society
we cannot afford to ignore the dangers of legionella breeding in water
systems, hot tubs, pools, air conditioning systems, buildings, or anywhere else.
I love it when you comment! Please contact me any time if you think I blew
it, if you have suggestions for the blog, or if you just want me to cover