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Cooling towers and evaporative condensers are completely safe equipment
Recent reports conclude that there is no direct link between the number of cooling towers and evaporative condensers in Spain and the number of reported cases of Legionnaires’ Disease. The exhaustive maintenance of the facilities, as well as the introduction of numerous technical improvements in these equipment, guarantee their safety.
Cooling towers and evaporative condensers are not the main problem of legionella in Spain, there is no direct relationship between these facilities and the number of reported cases of the disease. This is the main conclusion that emerges from the report “Legionnaire’s Disease and Refrigeration Towers and Evaporative Condensers in Spain“, prepared by Dr. Juan Ángel Ferrer, of the Legionella Prevention Area of Microservices, with the collaboration of the Evaporative Refrigeration Group of AEFYT,
On the other hand, the fact that, in recent years, no relationship has been established between legionella outbreaks recorded in our country and the cooling towers and evaporative condensation equipment, endorses the conclusions of the report. 2018 was the third consecutive year in which the inspections carried out by the health authorities in the risk facilities near the places where these outbreaks have occurred and the environmental and epidemiological investigations carried out have shown the no existence of a link between the outbreaks and these equipment.
The demands of AEFYT
Evaporative refrigeration is a safe, efficient and economically viable technology, so promoting its use is everybody’s task and for this it is essential to make society and administrations aware that it is completely safe equipment. In this context, the conclusions of the report endorse the main arguments that AEFYT has always come up with in this regard.
- The first place, the cooling towers and the evaporative condensers are completely safe equipment with a simple maintenance, as determined by the Royal Decree 865/2003, of July 4, which establishes the hygienic-sanitary criteria for the prevention and control of legionellosis, maintenance that must be carried out throughout the year and that not only prevents the proliferation of the bacteria, but also optimize the performance and the useful life of the equipment.
- Second, the need to investigate the rest of the risk facilities – nebulizers, fountains, spas, hot water installations – that must undergo exhaustive controls in the same way that has been happening for years with evaporative cooling equipment , a field where manufacturers, installers and owners of the facilities have made an important effort to promote safety. The truth is that, over the past few years, the health authorities seem to have stopped focusing exclusively on evaporative cooling equipment as the cause of the outbreaks, beginning to consider the rest of the risky facilities and adopting more appropriate measures against the problem.
- Thirdly, the competent authorities must adopt measures that allow the exhaustive detection of the origin of the outbreaks and prioritize the informative transparency in all their communications.
- Lastly and also with the report, these circumstances show that, in Spain, evaporative cooling equipment is not the main problem in the appearance of Legionella cases, so it is necessary to continue investigating the conditioning factors and epidemiological causes of these cases.
Main conclusions of the report
The report, which was unveiled in the latest edition of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Show, held at IFEMA between February 26 and March 1, has enjoyed the collaboration of the Group of Manufacturers of Cooling Equipment of AEFYT. The Group has been in charge of collecting data, contacting the corresponding Public Health General Directorates that have provided data on the number of teams registered at the end of 2016 in each Autonomous Region, as well as with the Health Institute Carlos III – National Center for Epidemiology-, which has provided information on Legionella cases registered in said period.
The main conclusions obtained are the following:
- • Cooling towers and evaporative condensers are not the main problem of legionella in Spain, there is no direct relationship between these facilities and the number of reported cases of the disease: if we cross the number of cooling towers and evaporative condensers per 1,000 km2 / 100,000 inhabitants per CC.AA with the cases of Legionella patients per 100,000 inhabitants by Autonomous Community in 2016, the data show no relationship between the communities with the largest equipment park and the highest incidence of Legionella cases.
- Furthermore, the low incidence of this disease in the Community of Madrid is striking, at 0.68 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the large concentration of cooling towers and evaporative condensers in this region. The same happens in other Autonomous Communities such as Navarra, La Rioja and Murcia.
- On the other hand, Catalonia, Aragón and Comunidad Valenciana, which have a number of cooling towers and evaporative condensers located in the middle band, present incidences of higher cases of Legionnaire’s Disease.
- In Spain, 58% of outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease are caused by contagion from hot water networks, compared to only 27% caused by cooling towers. It also happens in the United States or in the European Union.
- Consequently, it is considered necessary to continue investigating the conditioning and epidemiological factors of the occurrence of cases and outbreaks of disease in Spain as well as to modify the official strategy that is carried out on the prevention of Legionellosis in Spain.
The social alarm generated around the cooling towers and the fact that, for years, the health authorities have pointed to these teams as being solely responsible for the legionella outbreaks have acted to their detriment, favoring its suppression or its replacement by other less efficient alternatives. In recent years, the actions developed by the Evaporative Refrigeration Group of AEFYT have helped to counteract this situation and the health administrations have extended their controls to all risk facilities recognized by current legislation. Moreover, the evolution of the outbreaks gives reason to the arguments put forward by the Group since, during the last three years, in Spain it has not been demonstrated that there have been outbreaks linked to cooling towers and evaporative condensers.
By way of conclusion, remember that although the cooling towers are among the facilities susceptible to disseminate legionella, this is only possible when the equipment does not have the proper assembly, design, operation and maintenance, according to Royal Decree 865/2003. , of July 4.
Control y Ventilacion, S.L. is a company of international renown within the industrial and livestock sector, for being a manufacturer of products within the evaporative cooling sector, such as the HUMIBAT, evaporative plastic cooler; or its NUCLEOS towers, Cooling Towers. In both products, the substrate in which the evaporative process is produced is a plastic honeycomb, a honeycomb resistant both to physical and chemical attacks, and at the same time flexible, a honeycomb with a mesh structure, made of polyethylene High Density, and marketed under the names of PANAL C & V or in the case of being a drop separator, SEPARADOR C & V .
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