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Legionnaires disease is an infection of the lung caused by the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria cause a form of pneumonia and can be fatal. It is caused by breathing in aerosols which contain Legionella bacteria. This bacteria is present naturally in low levels in the environment, but can grow rapidly to dangerous levels in inadequately maintained cooling towers and in warm water systems.

Legionella growth can be controlled by proper water treatment procedures and regular cleaning. Building owners and occupiers have the prime responsibility to properly install and maintain all water-cooling systems, air-handling systems, evaporative cooling systems, humidifying systems, and hot and warm-water systems, all of which are known as "regulated systems" because they are regulated by the legislation.

The operation and maintenance of any regulated system must be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Public Health Act 2010, Public Health Regulation 2012 (Microbial Control) (external link) , and Australian/New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 3666.2:2011 and AS/NZS 3666.3:2011.

Council maintains a register of all water-cooling systems and warm-water systems installed on regulated premises within the Shire.

A water-cooling system is a cooling tower and its associated equipment and pipe work.

A cooling-tower is (a) a device for lowering the temperature of water or other liquid by evaporative cooling, or (b) an evaporative condenser which incorporates a device containing a refrigerant or heat exchanger.

A warm-water system is a system designed to heat and deliver water at a temperature of less than 60ºC at each outlet point.

Any new systems must be registered with Council within one (1) month of any such system being installed on the premises or if the details of the system have changed. The onus is on the owner/operator of the system to ensure that Council is provided with the necessary information.

Where the system is a cooling tower, certification of an effective disinfection process is required by a competent person annually in accordance with Clause 10 of the Public Health Regulation 2012 (external link). As of July 2008, Council requires the submission of the copy of certification annually, along with payment of the annual registration and archiving fee.

Note that Council does not regulate air conditioners and hot water cylinders under this legislation.

Further Information:

NSW Health
Phone: (02) 9391 9000
Web: (external link)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can assist me with mould issues inside my home?
Council's Environmental Health Officers do not deal with enquiries regarding mould in privately owned homes; be it in rental properties or owner occupied properties.
Home owners should contact an independent party such as Occupational Hygienist, which can be found in the Yellow pages. In the instance of rental properties the land lord or rental agent should be notified. If the tenant is not happy with the outcome of their report they should be advised to contact the Department of Fair Trading (external link)
Do Legionella bacteria grow in every air-conditioner unit?
The Legionella bacteria are naturally occurring bacteria. They grow in moist and warm areas. The Legionella bacteria can become a problem when cooling systems and warm water systems are not adequately maintained. For further information on maintenance of these regulated systems, please see the NSW Health website (external link).
How do I know if I have a Legionnaires’ infection?
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are usually fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath. Some people also have muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and diarrhea. People can become very sick with pneumonia; most people recover but the disease is occasionally fatal. If you believe you have symptoms of a Legionnaires’ infection, see your doctor immediately. Please note that cases of Legionnaires’ infections are incredibly low in NSW. For further information, please see the NSW Heath website (external link).
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