A STUDY ON LEGIONELLA PNEUMOPHILA, WATER CHEMISTRY, AND ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS IN COOLING TOWERS AT THE SAVANNAH RIVER SITE

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Legionnaires disease is a pneumonia caused by the inhalation of the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The majority of illnesses have been associated with cooling towers since these devices can harbor and disseminate the bacterium in the aerosolized mist generated by these systems. Historically, Savannah River Site (SRS) cooling towers have had occurrences of elevated levels of Legionella in all seasons of the year and in patterns that are difficult to predict. Since elevated Legionella in cooling tower water are a potential health concern a question has been raised as to the best control methodology. In this work we analyze available chemical, ... continued below

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Smith, C. & Brigmon, R. October 20, 2009.

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Legionnaires disease is a pneumonia caused by the inhalation of the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The majority of illnesses have been associated with cooling towers since these devices can harbor and disseminate the bacterium in the aerosolized mist generated by these systems. Historically, Savannah River Site (SRS) cooling towers have had occurrences of elevated levels of Legionella in all seasons of the year and in patterns that are difficult to predict. Since elevated Legionella in cooling tower water are a potential health concern a question has been raised as to the best control methodology. In this work we analyze available chemical, biological, and atmospheric data to determine the best method or key parameter for control. The SRS 4Q Industrial Hygiene Manual, 4Q-1203, 1 - G Cooling Tower Operation and the SRNL Legionella Sampling Program, states that 'Participation in the SRNL Legionella Sampling Program is MANDATORY for all operating cooling towers'. The resulting reports include L. pneumophila concentration information in cells/L. L. pneumophila concentrations >10{sup 7} cells/L are considered elevated and unsafe so action must be taken to reduce these densities. These remedial actions typically include increase biocide addition or 'shocking'. Sometimes additional actions are required if the problem persists including increase tower maintenance (e.g. cleaning). Evaluation of 14 SRS cooling towers, seven water quality parameters, and five Legionella serogroups over a three-plus year time frame demonstrated that cooling tower water Legionella densities varied widely though out this time period. In fact there was no one common consistent significant variable across all towers. The significant factors that did show up most frequently were related to suspended particulates, conductivity, pH, and dissolved oxygen, not chlorine or bromine as might be expected. Analyses of atmospheric data showed that there were more frequent significant elevated Legionella concentrations when the dew point temperature was high--a summertime occurrence. However, analysis of the three years of Legionella monitoring data of the 14 different SRS Cooling Towers demonstrated that elevated concentrations are observed at all temperatures and seasons. The objective of this study is to evaluate the ecology of L. pneumophila including serogroups and population densities, chemical, and atmospheric data, on cooling towers at SRS to determine whether relationships exist among water chemistry, and atmospheric conditions. The goal is to more fully understand the conditions which inhibit or encourage L. pneumophila growth and supply this data and associated recommendations to SRS Cooling Tower personnel for improved management of operation. Hopefully this information could then be used to help control L. pneumophila growth more effectively in SRS cooling tower water.

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  • Journal Name: ASHRAE

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  • Report No.: Q-RPT-F-00001
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 969793
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928559

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  • October 20, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 6:41 p.m.

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Smith, C. & Brigmon, R. A STUDY ON LEGIONELLA PNEUMOPHILA, WATER CHEMISTRY, AND ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS IN COOLING TOWERS AT THE SAVANNAH RIVER SITE, article, October 20, 2009; South Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928559/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.