On The Road: 
Viega Design Seminar

On September 21, I attended a Viega seminar in Houston. While I have sat in on educational sessions at conferences and topical discussion at panels, this was my first time attending an isolated “professional development” industry event. And, attending such an event was very timely to me, as I have been exploring the work that our industry is doing as it relates to accessible training and education. (Hear more about this is the November issue of Viega Voice).

The seminar was titled, “Pathogen Reduction by Design,” and focused primarily on water quality, Legionella, and the ASHRAE/ANSI 188 standard. 

Curtis Dady, Technical Manager at Viega, opened the seminar by surveying attendees on why they elected to show up. The group was made up of a variety of industry professionals, from plumbing designers to school district staff members. Many expressed the desire to learn more about risk reduction for health care, restaurants, and education projects.

After garnering feedback from attendees, Dady transitioned into a brief background on private water system outbreaks and causes such as Hepatitis A, E. Coli, and Salmonella. He also discussed public water outbreaks and causes including Giardia, Norovirus, Shigella, Campylobacter, and Legionella. He focused in on Legionella, sharing the history of the Legionnaire’s Disease, which dates back to the 1970s.

Following Dady’s presentation, the program was turned over to Tim Keane, of Legionella Risk Management Inc., an independent consulting company that helps its clients with pathogen risk reduction. Keane’s presentation focused on design strategies for pathogen risk reduction in commercial plumbing systems.

Keane began his presentation by explaining biofilm as bacteria floating in water that attaches to surfaces and then grows and disperses throughout a system. In order to prevent the development and growth of biofilm, water flow, disinfection and many other steps must be taken consistently. Keane asserted that Legionella and other water quality “hot topics” are not necessarily new, the industry and the general public have just become more knowledgeable of causes and treatments.

Next, Keane touched on some of the misconceptions about waterborne pathogens and illnesses. For example, inhalation of contaminated water can cause such illnesses; the water does not have to be consumed. Also, hospitals are not just at “high risk” for pathogens because of sheer number of showers, faucets, etc., but also because of the inhabitants who have weakened immune systems.

One of the most staggering points of Keane’s presentation, for me, was hearing of all the infrastructure types that are “high risk” for waterborne pathogens. On that list are decorative fountains that feature LED lighting, whirlpools, and hot tubs. The culprit: hot water. It is recommended by OSHA, ASHRAE and ASME that hot water be delivered at around 122°F, as it has been reported that Legionella can develop in water at temperatures between 77°F to 108°F.

To give attendees a general understating of the ASHRAE/ANSI 188 standard, Keane broke its scope into two main points: what the standard does and what buildings it applies to. Per the standards language, it: (2.1) provides minimum Legionellosis risk management requirements for the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement, and expansion of new and existing buildings and their associated water systems and components. And, it applies to: (2.2) human-occupied commercial, intuitional, multiunit residential, and institutional buildings.

Another point of Keane’s presentation that interested me was hearing of the litigation that has ensued as a result of Legionella outbreaks. The quote, “Legionella is the new asbestos,” stuck with me from the presentation. I am intrigued to see how the ASHRAE 188 standard will serve as a “standard of care” measure for building owners, managers, etc. to argue as planned prevention against waterborne pathogens.
The seminar concluded with a spotlight on design. Keane asserted that instantaneous water systems are the future of commercial buildings as it relates to eliminating issues in building design and hot water issues. 

Dady returned for the design discussion. He referenced some of the offerings that Viega has that  support water quality, such as the Viega ProPress Venturi Press Insert that induces flow in remote, seldom-used fixtures to reduce water stagnation. 

Viega has not released a new seminar schedule yet, but has confirmed that it will host another pathogen reduction seminar in 2016.

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