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The 42nd German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchV): New Require- ments for Cooling System Operators

On August 19th, 2017, the 42nd German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchV) went into force. This act regulates the technical and organizational requirements for the operators of evaporative cooling systems, cooling towers, and wet scrubber systems. The regulation is based on the potential danger that these systems can form aerosols that may contain legionella. When these are inhaled, they can lead to Legionnaires’ disease. The most common pathogen to cause this disease is Legionella pneumophila, which is spread via droplets. Legionnaires’ disease is an atypical pneumonia, which, under certain circumstances, can even be life threatening.

The following technical and organizational requirements can be derived from the implementation of the 42nd German Federal Immission Control Act:

  • Declare existing systems and new systems to the responsible authorities
  • Have a professional expert on hygiene conduct a comprehensive risk assessment and derive appropriate measures to take
  • If necessary, retrofit the systems with suitable sampling points
  • Maintain an operational logbook
  • Regularly have the systems checked by an authorized appraiser (publicly ordered and under oath) or a Type A accredited inspection site
  • Regular physical, chemical or microbiological testing of the system water conducted in-house
  • Regular testing for legionella and total plate count in the system water, conducted by a laboratory accredited according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025

The regulation states that the initial microbiological tests for existing systems must be carried out by September 16th, 2017, unless previous test results have already been submitted. Subsequently, tests will be necessary every three months. On June 2nd, 2017, the German Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Umweltbundesamt UBA) published recommendations for sampling and detecting legionella in evaporative cooling systems, cooling towers, and wet scrubber systems, which specifies the requirements for taking the samples and for testing.

In addition to successfully completing the training for taking drinking water sam­ples and the qualifications specified in VDI 2047 Sheet 2, sample-takers must also be integrated into the accreditation of the laboratory that is conducting the testing.

The GBA Group carries out sampling as well as microbiological testing under the accredited conditions specified by. Furthermore, we can also integrate your qualified employees into our quality management system as external samp­lers. That way, you have the flexibility to conduct accredited sampling in a way that fulfills your internal demands, and you can still have your samples analyzed in our laboratories.

If you have any questions about this topic or how to implement these measures in a way that suits your individual needs, our experts would be happy to answer them personally. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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