UAE businesses advised to follow WHO legionella guidelines to avoid health risks
UAE businesses are being advised by water experts to observe World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on Legionella and avoid cost cutting in order to prevent health risks.
Water treatment specialists Culligan Middle East have questioned the level of business and domestic water hygiene safeguards as the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions sees more hotels, offices and malls reopening across the Gulf region.
The company fears health issues arising when water systems left idle for months are reinstated, without proper testing backed up by safety plans being put in place in line with WHO recommendations on prevention of Legionella.
“WHO guidelines recognize water safety plans as being best practice,” says the company’s technical director in Dubai, Rodger Macfarlane. “But these are scarce in this region, save for those imposed by organisations with a head office in Europe or America, typically the five-star hotel chains.
“There is little importance on best practice to determine what needs to be done in order to resolve any Legionella problems at the time of the site survey, and which may arise afterwards.
“Cost cutting is bringing a reduction in Legionella testing. Businesses, and residential landlords, should at least opt for quick on-site checks for legionella before putting a water system back online. But this is not happening.”
Full laboratory Legionella checks, meanwhile, take a week for incubation. “So if you’re opening a building, you’re not going to know whether your water is safe until seven days after you’ve taken the sample,” explains Macfarlane.
The company is advising companies to safeguard against health hazards when preparing to switch on water systems that have been off for any length of time.
Culligan says UAE hospitals generally have their water systems well under control, developing their own management systems. And the main potential sources of Legionella in the region - cooling towers and fountains - are closely observed and controlled.