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Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease Highlights Exposure Risks due to Microbial Pathogens

Certified Industrial Hygienists are uniquely qualified to identify airborne hazards and exposure risks to help prevent the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Lansing, MI – WEBWIRE

CIHs are trained to recognize and prevent exposure risks for workers and the public, including those involving microbial pathogens such as Legionella.

The worst outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York City’s history has already claimed 12 lives and infected at least 113 people in the South Bronx.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been called in to work with state and city health officials to stop the outbreak.
Inspections of cooling towers across the area have been ordered and a number have been found that harbor the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.  Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. It can also inhabit and multiply in manmade water sources such as cooling towers, hot tubs, hot water tanks, plumbing systems and even decorative fountains.
Although most people exposed to Legionella do not become ill, others can become infected when they inhale small water droplets containing the bacteria.   People most at risk include the elderly, current or former smokers, anyone with chronic lung disease, and people with a weakened immune system.  The CDC reports, “Each year, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. However, many infections are not diagnosed or reported, so this number may be higher. More illness is usually found in the summer and early fall, but it can happen any time of year.”
One group of professionals on the frontlines helping to identify sources of Legionella bacteria and prevent outbreaks are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). “CIHs are trained to recognize and prevent exposure risks for workers and the public, including those involving microbial pathogens such as Legionella,” said Nicole Greeson, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®.  “Core competencies of the CIH® program that are critical for identifying these types of hazards and to help prevent outbreaks include air sampling and instrumentational analysis; chemical and biohazards; engineering controls and ventilation; health risk analysis and hazard communication; and work environments and industrial processes.” 
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit, email or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement.  Currently, more than 6800 people are certified to use the CIH® designation.

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 Legionnaires’ Disease
 Industrial Hygiene
 Air Testing

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