NYS Department of Health adopts emergency Legionnaires’ Disease regulations

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — New penalties are on the line as part of a plan to protect New Yorkers and defend against the outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new regulations adopted by the New York State Department of Health, along with the creation of a tip line to help those with questions or concerns about the disease. Legionnaires’ Disease has been fatal in New York State in the summer of 2015, killing at least 12.

In Erie County, at least 30 people have contracted the disease, which at times has been linked back to cooling towers, commonly found at the top of buildings.

“This summer’s outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease caused concern in communities across the state, and today we are moving forward to help prevent future outbreaks and keep out neighborhoods safe,” Cuomo said. “Our new emergency regulations will make sure that building owners live up to their responsibilities and provide health officials with critical information to counter the spread of Legionella bacteria.”

Howard Zucker, commissioner of the State Department of Health, says cooling towers can promote the growth of bacteria that leads to Legionnaires’ disease, and regulations will target that source of bacteria.

Those with cooling towers will be required to register them with New York State within 30 days, they must also collect cultures and test their towers for regular testing. Owners will also be required to create a maintenance program and plan to keep  clean towers in the long term.

New York State will begin inspecting cooling towers, and create penalties for those who don’t follow regulations.

Those with questions can call 1-888-769-7243.

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