Global public health organisation NSF International has announced it is developing a new building water health standard, in order to help building owners and operators evaluate and minimise various risks of disease and injury commonly associated with building water systems.
The new NSF 444 standard will address growing public concern about building water health, including recent findings on Legionnaires’ disease cases reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Based on a CDC analysis of data from 20 states and New York City, 76% of reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease were found to be associated with health care facilities.
This finding highlights the risk of Legionella bacteria exposure for patients, especially in long-term care facilities and hospitals. This is not the first time the CDC has warned about health risks associated with building water systems.
In June 2016, CDC Vital Signs stated that reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease had nearly quadrupled since 2004 with 5,000 diagnosed cases in 2014. Water management problems were cited as one of the main causes of these outbreaks.
In addition, the CDC published a toolkit for building owners and managers, ‘Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth & Spread in Buildings: A Practical Guide to Implementing Industry Standards’.
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection contracted by inhaling small droplets of water that contain Legionella bacteria.
According to the CDC report, one in four people who contract Legionnaires’ disease from a health care facility will die as a result.
NSF International is recognised as a global leader in water quality and safety. Founded in 1944, NSF International developed the American National Standards for all materials and products that treat or come in contact with drinking water to help protect public health and the environment and minimise adverse health effects.
Today, NSF International is also focusing on building water health, or the health and safety of water once it enters a building.
NSF International’s building water health programme provides a variety of services, including independent auditing of building water systems and products, development of water safety plans to minimise the risks associated with water in buildings and Legionella risk assessments for building water systems.
In facilitating development of a building water health standard, NSF International will help establish the minimum requirements and expectations necessary to prevent disease and injury from physical, chemical and microbial hazards.
The standard NSF 444: Prevention of Injury and Disease Associated with Building Water Systems will establish minimum requirements for the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement and expansion of new and existing building water systems (potable and non-potable).
The new standard applies to human-occupied commercial, institutional, multi-unit residential and industrial buildings as well as entertainment venues, such as concert halls and sports arenas.
This standard does not apply to single-family residential buildings. The new building water health standard is expected to be finalised and published in 2018.
Interested stakeholders are invited to participate in the standard development process facilitated by NSF International.
Health care providers, water authorities, public health departments and other interested parties can participate in the joint committee tasked with developing the new building water health standard.
Please contact NSF International via the enquiries form for more information.