LAS VEGAS – Michael Hurtado has been flushing the toilet and experiencing a pandemic over the past year. Once a week. Hundreds of toilets. Thousands of times.
“Every week we inspect the entire property, flush all the toilets, use all the washbasins and turn on all the showers. You can start from the edge of the floor and turn it off when you come back.” He said.
Hurtado is the lead engineer at the Ahern Hotel, right next to the Las Vegas Strip. Officially closed during the pandemic, Hartado worked to keep the building system safe despite the absence of guests.
“My team takes 60 hours a week every week,” he says.
It is necessary to maintain water movement to protect closed buildings from pathogens that can accumulate in pipes that span miles.
Staying up late for safety professionals Legionella is the causative agent of 95% of legionellosis. At least 1,000 Americans die each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s almost certain that you’ll be at risk for more legionellosis patients after closure,” said Michelle Swanson, a professor of microbiology at the University of Michigan and an expert on Legionella.
Bacteria occur naturally in ponds and streams, and when they sit in stagnant lukewarm, non-chlorinated water, they are almost always a problem, the National Academy of Sciences, which wrote a report on the management of Legionella in 2020. Swanson, a member of the committee, said: In the water system.
These are exactly the same conditions that can occur with pipes in a closed building. The hot water is cooled to the growth temperature of Legionella. Chris Nanclade of Nankred Engineering, an Indianapolis company specializing in industrial water treatment services, said chlorine from urban water treatment systems would not last long in stagnant pipes.
“Without the new water flowing through the hot water system to push out the old ones, it can quickly dissipate,” he said.
Empty room and clean pipe
According to the water management company, as the building is ready to reopen, it will receive twice or three times as many calls as usual.
Brian Waymire, CEO of IWC Innovations in Greenwood, Indiana, said: His staff has treated hotels, corporate buildings, medical facilities, sports arenas, and residential buildings in 45 states.
One of those callsWas from Ahern, who is working with the IWC to develop a water management plan prior to the opening of the hotel in the third quarter.
If there was one COVID-19 silver backing, it means that people are thinking about biosafety in ways never before, said Keith Wright, general manager of Ahern.
“People are coming to Las Vegas to have fun, not to get sick. We’re here to prevent it from happening,” he said.
Last month, Wright, Hartado and the IWC team took water samples from the faucets throughout the hotel, recorded temperatures from the hot water taps of the eight-story, 200-room hotel and conference center, and tracked the water system.
This includes patrolling bedroom-sized air conditioning units, inspecting boilers the same size as bathrooms, and climbing high-rise cooling towers.
What they found was impressed. “It’s very clean here and you can eat off the floor,” said Bill Pearson, chief scientific officer of the company. The stainless steel of the pipe coming out of the cooling unit was also shining.
Difficult to catch but deadly
Legionellosis is rare but fatal, and one case can damage the building’s reputation for years.
The main route of infection is to inhale a mist of water contaminated with Legionella. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, and fever.
The CDC estimates that less than 5% of people are more likely to get sick if exposed. The greatest risks are the elderly, smokers, and people with a weakened immune system.
When you get sick, 10% die.
Last year, the CDC released guidance on how to safely reopen a building after a long closure.
Even the best health organizations in the country were not safe. In August, the CDC launched several office buildings in AtlantaAfter the discovery of Legionella in the water system, the leased space had to be closed.
In San Francisco, the Public Utility Commission was very worried about the number of large buildings.Water consumption has decreased from 50% to 70%, and we have sent 952 guidance on how to safely clean pipes when they are reopened.
Water technicians should be worried about legionellosis everywhere, but the general public shouldn’t, said Richard Miller, a longtime legionellosis researcher at the University of Louisville, a consulting business. ..
Legionellosis is not contagious and is not transmitted from drinking water. You can get infected just by inhaling the bacteria.
“Drinking water containing Legionella doesn’t make you sick because it’s killed by stomach acid,” Pearson said.
The greatest danger zone is medical facilities with vulnerable people. The CDC estimates that 25% of legionellosis infected in the medical setting have died.
In most cases, it starts with a hotel shower.
“Taking a bath isn’t a big deal, it’s a hotel shower,” Miller said. “The risks are not about the same because office buildings don’t stay overnight.”
Other sources of infection are decorative fountains, hot tubs, and cooling towers that are part of large air conditioning systems. In 2015, a cooling tower in a New York City building caused 138 people to become ill and 16 to die.
According to experts, a well-maintained water system with a well-managed water management plan is generally fine.
Mark LeChevallier, who has led the research program at American Water for 32 years, said:Multi-state utility.
The most common solution in the event of a problem is to inject high levels of chlorine into the building’s water supply system and leave it alone.Up to 12 hours.
It’s not an easy fix. The entire water supply system of the building needs to be shut down.This requires staff to post signs on all water sources and implement them.
“Then you have to open all the faucets, turn on all the showers and clean all the toilets until the chlorine returns to less than 4ppm. Nothing can be overlooked,” oversees hundreds of cleanings. Pearson who has been doing said.
Typical building costs range from $ 10,000 to $ 25,000, but can be higher.
“That’s why buildings need to have a water management plan, which is much cheaper than repairing,” he said.
Ultimately, the building may be designed to make Legionella fungus impossible, but that’s a long-term goal, Nancrede said.
“The whole field of Legionella detection and control is very young. We are always in a state of learning,” he said.
The latest ideas include filters that catch bacteria, UV light that disinfects water streams, pipes that are resistant to biofilm formation, and designing buildings to prevent the growth of bacteria.
“We’re starting to talk about manipulating Legionella from the system, so we don’t need any chemicals,” Nankred said. There is a constant speed. “
So far, the biggest attack is good defense.
“I don’t want to make people sick, I don’t want to kill people,” Nankred said. “This isn’t dazzling. You just have to plan.”
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I’m worried about legionellosis as the building reopens after the COVID shutdown
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