- The bacteria buildup can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a severe form of pneumonia spread by mist dispersed by cooling towers.
- Shephard expects Service NB to play a role in the regulations while discussions about who will oversee them continue.
New Brunswick has presented a bill mandating the licensing and maintenance of cooling towers in industrial buildings, three years after more than a dozen people became ill from bacteria buildup in them in Moncton.
Using a fan and water are used to cool industrial buildings. Legionnaire’s disease, a severe form of pneumonia spread by mist dispersed by cooling towers, can result from the bacteria buildup.
In 2019, sixteen people were infected with the disease. To help them recover, some were put into medically induced comas, prompting calls for more regulation.
“We’ve said before that we needed to have a regulatory process so that industry can know what’s expected of them,” Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said when introducing the bill on Tuesday. They’ve been on a voluntary registry until now, but it’ll be mandatory and incorporated into building codes with the new legislation.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Sébastien Faucher, a microbiology professor at McGill University, said that 3 things are required to reduce the spread of legionella, the bacteria that creates the illness.
“You must know where the systems that can produce legionella aerosols are located.” You must ensure that the people in charge of those systems are actually in charge of those systems, maintained, and clean. Monitoring is the last thing you need.”
While the bill addressed those three points, he said that several details, such as defining a threshold for action, needed to be worked out.
He cited the protocol in Quebec’s plan, which states that if the legionella count exceeds 10,000 per milliliter, the operator must take action, such as increasing disinfectant.
As per the New Brunswick bill, Specific thresholds to trigger actions will be defined later.
“How often do those towers get inspected?” Is it once a month, twice per month, or three times a month? Is it once a month, twice a month, or three times a month? Once every two weeks, perhaps? Maybe once a week? The time between receiving the samples and the results is also a factor. It would take him about two weeks, he estimated.
He believes it will aid in preventing outbreaks but not eliminating them.
Since the outbreak in 2019, Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold has been requesting additional precautions.
In a written statement to Global News on Wednesday afternoon, she said, “Any attempt to prevent Legionnaires’ infectious diseases is an important step in protecting our citizens.” And although we don’t have all of the details yet, we’re excited to work with the Province of New Brunswick on implementing the new regulation.”
Shephard said that while discussions about who will oversee the regulations continue, she expects Service NB to play a role.
Source: CBC News
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