August 2015
Indoor Environmental News
Outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease has Facility Managers in Texas Checking Cooling Towers  
New York has experienced their worst outbreak of Legionnaires' disease which has already resulted in 12 deaths and over 100 people becoming infected.  The disease is caused by breathing small water droplets contaminated with a type of bacteria known as Legionella.
 
Although many people may be exposed to Legionella and not become sick, there are groups who are especially vulnerable.  These include the elderly, people with chronic lung disease, current and former smokers, and anyone with a weakened or suppressed immune system.
 
The outbreak in the South Bronx is believed to be associated with people breathing mists from contaminated cooling towers located all around the borough.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with city and state health inspectors to monitor these cooling towers.  So far, a number of cooling towers in the area have been found to harbor the Legionella bacteria. 
 
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), "Cooling towers, evaporative condensers, and fluid coolers use a fan to move air through a recirculated water system. This allows a considerable amount of water vapor and sometimes droplets to be introduced into the surroundings, despite the presence of drift eliminators designed to limit droplet release. This water may be in the ideal temperature range for Legionnaires' disease bacteria (LDB) growth, 20°-50°C (68°-122°F). Good maintenance is necessary, both to control LDB growth, and for effective operation."
 
The outbreak in New York has many facility managers across Texas checking the maintenance and operations of cooling towers located at their facilities.  "A similar outbreak could happen here in Texas if cooling towers are not properly maintained," said Hollis L. Horner, President of Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc.  "Cooling towers, hot tubs, decorative fountains, hot water tanks, and large plumbing systems are all possible locations for the presence and amplification of Legionella bacteria."
 
The environmental and building science professionals at Indoor Environmental Consultants provide Legionella sampling and consulting services.  These services can be instrumental in preventing an outbreak.  Testing is also critical to identify sources of an outbreak if one has already occurred.
 
To learn more about these services,
    please visit www.iecinc.net , email ncancino@iecinc.net or call (877) 432-8378.


Preventing Occupational Asthma with Air Testing and Monitoring Services
More than 2 million Texans have been diagnosed with asthma. A significant number of these people are in the workforce and suffer from occupational asthma.  Also referred to as work-related asthma, occupational asthma is the most common occupational lung disease in the United States. 
 
Nationwide, OSHA estimates that 11 million workers in a wide range of industries and occupations are exposed to at least one of the numerous agents known to be associated with occupational asthma. The agency also reports that occupational factors are associated with up to 15 percent of disabling asthma cases in the United States.  
 
Occupational asthma results from exposure to allergens or irritants on the job. These exposures can lead to new cases of asthma or worsen existing asthma. The condition can cause wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. Symptoms may emerge hours after exposure to harmful substances or even months or years later. 
 
T he National Institutes of Health (NIH) has stated that more than 250 substances are known or believed to cause or exacerbate work-related asthma. These substances include chemicals used in manufacturing; paints; cleaning products; dusts from wood, grain, and flour; latex gloves; mold; animals; and insects.
 
Occupational asthma reduces productivity, quality of life, and increases costs to employees, families, businesses, and taxpayers. Some employees become too disabled to work, while others must change jobs to avoid the substance(s) that caused their asthma. Unless occupational asthma is caught and managed early, it is likely to continue and get worse.
 
Preventing occupational asthma by reducing or eliminating exposure to substances that cause or aggravate asthma in the work environment is essential for controlling the condition.  The air quality professionals at Indoor Environmental Consultants provide air monitoring services to identify these airborne pollutants and irritants.  These services are available to employers from private industry, institutions, and government agencies across Texas and the Gulf Coast. 
 
To learn more about IEC's occupational asthma and environmental asthma trigger testing and consulting services, 
  please visit www.iecinc.net , email ncancino@iecinc.net or call (877) 432-8378.