Preventing Legionnaire’s disease — read ASHRAE’s updated risk management standard for building water systems

by Brianna Crandall — September 12, 2018 — Global building technology society ASHRAE has published a revised edition of its standard that provides a more comprehensive approach to preventing the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria, which can cause a respiratory disease known as legionellosis, either in the form of a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease, or a less serious infection called Pontiac fever that has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2018, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems, establishes minimum legionellosis risk management requirements for building water systems. The 2018 edition provides clarification of compliance requirements, as well as an update to enforceable, code-intended language to facilitate adoption of the standard for code and regulatory purposes.

The standard was originally developed to assist building designers and operators such as facilities managers (FMs) in establishing water management plans that include practices specific to the systems that exist in a particular building, campus or health-care facility. It is intended for use by those involved in design, construction, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and service of centralized building water systems and components.

Paul Lindahl, chair of the Standard 188 committee, pointed out:

Standard 188 was the first industry standard in the US to address Legionnaire’s disease prevention. Since this standard centers on the development and implementation of good design, operations and maintenance procedures, it is important to make updates on a regular basis. The 2018 edition of the standard focuses on improved usability, offering better guidance to minimize the risk of this potentially fatal disease and save lives.

The 2018 edition of Standard 188 provides:

  • A description of environmental conditions that promote the growth of Legionella
  • Informative annexes and bibliography with suggestions, recommendations, and references to additional guidance
  • Minimum legionellosis risk management requirements for buildings and associated potable and non-potable water systems
  • Requirements for legionellosis control strategies and documentation

The CDC estimates there are between 8,000 and 18,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States each year — and more than 10 percent of these cases are fatal. Legionella can also cause a less-severe influenza-like illness known as Pontiac fever. Most of those cases are the result of exposure to Legionella bacteria found in building water systems.

The cost of ASHRAE Standard 188-2018 is $75 for ASHRAE members ($88, non-members). To order, visit the ASHRAE Bookstore or call the ASHRAE Customer Contact Center at 1-800-527-4723 (US and Canada), 404-636-8400 (worldwide).