Recent Legionella Outbreak in NYC Should Make Building Owners In Westchester County Think Twice About Their Cooling Towers

With the recent deadly outbreak of Legionella bacteria, New York City is taking proactive steps to make certain this disease does not spread further. The Opera House Hotel’s (located in the South Bronx) cooling towers were the source of the Legionella outbreak; the outbreak was responsible for killing 12 people and sickening dozens more. On Tuesday, August 18 Mayor de Blasio signed a legislation requiring regulation of all cooling towers in NYC.

Legionella bacteria, when airborne, can lead to pneumonia and death, particularly in the elderly and infants. The bacteria were found inside the hotel’s cooling tower systems. A cooling tower functions as a heat exchanger where water and air are placed in contact with each other to reduce the temperature of the water. As the cooling tower introduces the air to water, part of the water evaporates, which reduces its temperature as it circulates through the tower.

“All buildings owners should get their cooling towers routinely inspected to ensure an outbreak such as this does not occur in Westchester County,” said Bud Hammer, President of Atlantic Westchester, a commercial and industrial HVAC business. “Being proactive with checking and chemically treating cooling tower water will help protect a building and all who inhabit inside and nearby.”

Below are three tips from Bud about how building owners can maintain their cooling towers properly:

  1. Drain and clean tower at least once a year
  2. Hire a professional, licensed chemical water treatment service company
  3. Obtain monthly water condition reports to monitor biological activity and corrosion levels

Atlantic Westchester, who serves customers across the NY Metro Area, can help ensure your cooling tower is properly maintained and consult on proper water treatment, ensuring the safe operation of your system.