NY Offers Free Legionella Testing To Bldg Owners

Cuomo_End Worker Exploitation 07152015This afternoon, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the New York State Department of Health is providing free Legionella testing for building owners, operators, managers and landlords of buildings with cooling towers or evaporative condenser units that can be sources of the bacteria. Testing will be done free of charge through the Department’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory. This service will be available until October, when the hot summer temperatures that may contribute to the growth of Legionella bacteria have moderated.

Governor Cuomo has also made State phone lines available in order to further facilitate Legionella testing by State Health officials. Those numbers (888-769-7243 or 518-485-1159) will begin operating at 4:00 p.m. today, free of charge. Trained operators will be available Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. These lines are designed to support sample collection, as described below, which will facilitate testing by the Department of Health.

Legionnaires’ Disease is not spread person-to-person. Legionella exists naturally in water and moist soil and is found in creeks and ponds, hot water tanks, water in air conditioning cooling towers and evaporative condensers, as well as soil at excavation sites – but high concentrations of the bacteria can be dangerous. Proper maintenance and routine disinfection of cooling towers can help minimize the presence of Legionella and reduce the risk for exposure to the public. Although some smaller buildings may have units of this type, water-based cooling towers are typically found in larger, industrial, commercial and high-rise residential sites. The six sites that tested positive in New York City are all sites of this nature.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Cooling Engineers (ASHRAE) recently released new guidelines that landlords are encouraged to follow. Additional information on Legionnaires’ disease from DOH can be found here.

Building owners, operators, managers, and landlords who wish to have DOH test for Legionella should send the name and address to which the kit should be mailed, and a working phone number to: Legionella@health.ny.gov. DOH will send an appropriate sampling kit with simple instructions for sample collection.

DOH will provide results of the tests, and when the test shows dangerous levels of Legionella or other bacteria, DOH will provide clear guidelines for disinfecting these systems.

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