State Senator Joe Gruters (R), chair of the Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee introduced SB1190 for the 2020 Legislative Session.
The bill intends to protect the public from Legionnaires’ disease contracted from cooling towers by requiring owners to regularly clean, maintain, treat, sample, and report results to public health officials. If testing reveals that a cooling tower is harboring Legionella growth, it must be reported to the health department and may require public notification.
Florida, having an almost constant need for air conditioning and refrigeration, has many cooling towers. Currently, there is no registry of where they are located or requirements for them to be maintained, periodically disinfected, or continuously treated with biocides to avoid the conditions that encourage Legionella growth.
SB1190 is based largely on the New York State legislation enacted after the 2015 New York City outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
As reported in the Pensacola News Journal by J. David Krause, PhD, MSPH, CIH, a Legionnaires’ disease expert—“SB1190 establishes a number of requirements, but does not clearly lay out the qualifications and competencies for “qualified persons” who will be key to its success. Knowledgeable and trained professionals capable of implementing the bill’s required actions are scarce in Florida. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), in cooperation with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is establishing the core competencies and critical training for Industrial Hygienists and Public Health Professionals who investigate outbreaks and perform routine monitoring for Legionella sources. By ensuring there are trained and qualified professionals ready to prepare plans, inspect compliance, and certify cooling towers are safe for operation, the bill is more likely to protect public health.
The cost to building owners, may be substantial. However, it is thought the benefits will outweigh the costs if the final law ensures that professionals performing the inspections, testing, and government oversight are adequately trained and knowledgeable. With robust implementation and effective oversight by state agencies tasked with enforcement, the bill could significantly improve public health for both Floridians and tourists.”
Grant Newhouse, CEO