Management of Legionella in Public Services and Procurement Canada buildings
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has processes to manage Legionella bacteria in the buildings it owns and leases.
- The government is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its building occupants and visitors
- Public Services and Procurement Canada has implemented effective processes to control the growth of Legionella by following its existing strict Legionella management standard and associated communications protocol
- These processes meet or exceed North American regulations, standards and guidelines
- The key to controlling bacterial growth is preventive maintenance and ongoing testing
- PSPC has also recently engaged with other federal, provincial and municipal departments to share program information, offer support and facilitate information sharing between different jurisdictions
If pressed on informing employees of testing results
- Responsible departmental representatives are informed in accordance with the Legionella Communication and Actions Protocol.
Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria at low levels in water such as rivers, lakes and streams. The bacteria can grow in building systems that use water when favorable conditions exist. Legionella can cause Legionnaires’ disease (LD), a severe form of pneumonia that requires medical treatment. There is an increasing number of Legionnaire’s disease cases occurring in Canada and internationally. Several recent LD outbreaks have been investigated by public health agencies in Canada (eg. Quebec City, QC—2012; Surrey, BC—2018; London, ON - 2019; Moncton, NB - 2019). Since the bacteria is naturally occurring, the key is to control its growth in building systems.
PSPC controls Legionella bacterial growth in building water systems through good design, installation, operation and preventive maintenance practices by following its robust standard on managing Legionella.
PSPC tests its Legionella-susceptible mechanical systems to validate the effectiveness of its maintenance practices and reports on the results based on its established communications protocol.
If a bacteria count above the action level is found, the system is cleaned, disinfected and retested to ensure that the remedial actions were effective.
PSPC uses 3 methods to test for Legionella bacteria in its buildings:
- dipslide: Test to determine the presence of live bacteria. This test is not Legionella specific. Results take 24 to 48 hours
- quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR): DNA test to determine the presence of living and dead Legionella bacteria. Results take 24 hours
- Legionella bacteria culture: Industry-recommended test used to determine the presence of living Legionella bacteria. Results take 10 to 14 days
The PSPC standard, corrective maintenance actions and the associated Communications Protocol were established with extensive industry consultation, research and collaboration with the province of Quebec (only province with a Legionella regulation). The unions also participated in the development of the communications protocol.
PSPC has recently engaged with other federal government departments (such as RCMP), provincial (such as Ontario, New Brunswick) and municipal (such as Vancouver) jurisdictions who are considering implementing regulations related to Legionella management to share PSPC program information, offer support and facilitate information sharing between different jurisdictions.
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