Rising Legionella Cases in Canada Mean Greater Regulation

17 May 2023
Glenn Strelau Senior Vice President

Changing seasons from winter to spring denotes the shift from heating in buildings to cooling, and new findings out of Ontario show that legionella cases are on the rise. If your building or facility has a cooling tower on the roof, then you may be aware of the hazards of “legionella,” the pathogen that causes the potentially fatal lung disease, legionnaires disease.

Cities across Canada categorize legionella as a major public health risk and many have now mandated building and facility operators take proper measures to control it. If the pathogen isn’t detected, building occupants and the nearby community can be exposed, leading to a highly localized public health crisis.

For this reason, for example, Vancouver has taken detection and treatment one step further, requiring monthly Legionella testing on cooling tower systems, and bi-monthly testing on decorative water features, as a condition of retaining an annual water system operating permit.

Outbreaks & Liability

Legionella bacteria is present in most water sources so there is no way to eliminate all risk. The solution is to minimize the growth and spread of legionella in building water systems through specialized water treatment. Building owners and operators can potentially be liable for any legionella outbreaks originating from their water systems so it’s critical that your water treatment service provider is a certified CWT, EOCP or Professional Qualifications Standard for Legionella Water Safety.

Pace Solutions is a Canadian water treatment company that trains and invests in the certification of its technicians to minimize the risk of legionella. We combine regular testing and customized treatment to monitor and control legionella growth, keeping your equipment within ASHRAE standards for health and safety. If your tower has unsafe levels, we offer sanitization services to get you back up and running quickly.

When Legionnaires outbreaks occur, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or your local health authority tests local water features and cooling towers to find the cause. Maintaining ASHRAE standards with the help of a qualified water treatment provider is your best protection.

Legionella by the Numbers

The tightening of regulations isn’t arbitrary. Urban areas have seen an increase in Legionella cases and deaths. Note: Legionella is the name of the microbe, Legionnaires Disease is the name of the disease, and Legionellosis is the diagnosis upon contraction.

Legionella in Cooling Towers

Legionella flourishes in still water under heated conditions like direct sun. It’s elusive, moving through a water system and hiding in biofilm. It can even seek refuge inside amebae. This is why testing needs to be a regular occurrence.

The water basins in cooling towers reduce the temperature of the recirculated water that runs through the HVAC. These water basins can become breeding grounds for legionella. As part of the design, massive fans pull heat from the building but also spread water vapor. If the water vapor contains legionella, it can travel to the nearby community.

Legionella Testing and Prevention

Legionella testing can take 7-10 days, so fast results can be the difference in an outbreak. Each Pace Solutions service team is equipped to provide qPCR (DNA) testing, which reduces the time for a highly accurate result to less than one hour

We recommend:

  • Regularly scheduled system servicing visits
  • Regular testing and extra testing when deemed necessary
  • A system assessment with some system upgrades
  • Remote monitoring of critical parts of the system

After every visit, we generate a report and help customers act quickly and address issues to avoid a crisis.

Buy Canadian and Protect Canadian Communities

Building and facility owners and managers understandably have a keen eye on health, safety, and the bottom line. Ensuring excellent public health, efficiency and system longevity is the goal of Pace Solutions technicians. With a suite of system cleaning, protection and energy efficiency products, our teams are fully equipped to test, treat, and retain peak water system performance.

Contact us any time to get a full site assessment and learn how we can enhance and protect your water systems.