The American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) announces the release of its new guideline on Legionella titled Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems. This technical document for industry professionals is an expansion of information provided in AIHA’s publication, Field Guide for the Determination of Biological Contaminants in Environmental Samples, 2nd edition. The new guideline was authored and edited by William Kerbel, CIH; J. David Krause, PhD, MSPH, CIH; Brian G. Shelton, MPH; and John P. Springston, CIH, CSP, FAIHA.

A public health standpoint

“Other guidelines and standards are targeted at industry guidelines,” said Shelton. “We came at this from a public health standpoint. This is the first guideline that takes a new, preventive approach, based on proven industrial hygiene principles to controlling the spread of Legionella.”

Legionella is a bacterium that can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious respiratory illness that can result in life threatening pneumonia and can be fatal for people with pre-existing medical conditions. People become infected with Legionella by inhaling the mist from water sources where the bacteria thrive, which can include the potable water systems of homes, hospitals, and hotels. In recent years, incidence of Legionnaires’ disease has increased substantially nationwide. According to CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the incidence of Legionnaires’ in the general population rose 320 percent, from 0.42 per 100,000 in 2001 to 1.36 per 100,000 in 2011. In New York City alone, reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease rose from 216 in 2011 to 300 in 2013, according to MMWR, a 38 percent increase in two years.

Most recent outbreak

Most recently, public health officials have launched an investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the South Bronx section of New York City, which has sickened nearly 100 people and has currently claimed the lives of ten.

The editors of AIHA’s new guideline recently published an article in The Synergist, “The New Age of Legionella,” that characterizes Legionnaires’ disease as “the most lethal building-related illness associated with water-borne bacteria.”

“It appears that public health officials see only the tip of the iceberg and investigate only those cases determined to be part of an outbreak,” the article states.

Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems offers guidance for industrial hygienists and other occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) professionals on assessing building water systems before disease occurs. For more information, visit:{3A823505-FEF3-E411-A28B-005056B20848}

To register for the Introduction to the Recognition, Evaluation and Control of Legionella in Building Water Systems Guideline webinar, taking place on Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. EST, visit:

About AIHA

The AIHA’s 10,000 members represent a cross-section of industry, private business, labor, government and academia. More information is available at