Maryland - Legionella Prevention and Costs of Legionnaires Outbreaks
Historical Headlines Related to Legionella
December 11, 2023
In a letter to the editor, a Ocean City, MD resident claimed that "We have an issue with legionella bacteria in the water in Ocean City." They went on to state, "The large condos that had over 1,000 people in them during the season may contain less than 100. Some condo units may be vacant for weeks or even months. Whatever chlorine the city added to the water has long since evaporated. And since the heat must remain on in vacant condos to prevent pipe freezing, there is an opportunity for those low concentrations of legionella to grow and reach alarming levels." (Source)
November 2, 2023
Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's top research center, the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, complained to federal regulators about hazards in the site's ventilation system, including risk of Legionella bacteria. The complaint sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) alleged that the facility's chillers, which are part of temperature regulation systems, had not received maintenance in more than three years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chiller maintenance is necessary to protect staff and community members from Legionella, a bacteria that can cause the lung infection Legionnaire's disease. (Source)
August 24, 2023
Investigation of the source of a single Legionnaires’ disease case at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland is ongoing according to the Office of Public Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons. No additional cases of Legionnaires’ have been identified at the prison and no deaths deaths have occured. “Every FBOP facility including FCI Cumberland has contingency plans to address a large range of concerns or incidents, including communicable diseases, and is fully equipped and prepared to implement these plans as necessary,” the spokesman said. While the FBOP’s contingency plans “are sensitive in nature” and unavailable to the public, the bureau takes communicable diseases seriously, he said. (Source)
March 8, 2023
Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in opposition to SB 512. The SB 512 Bill is titled Drinking Water – Legionella Pneumophila Bacterium – Minimizing Growth and Transmission. This bill requires localities operating public water systems to maintain a detectable residual disinfectant level of at least 0.5 milligrams per liter of chlorine. The testimony argued that while the goal of delivering safe public utilities is noble, the procedure called for in SB 512 imposes an unreasonable mandate on local government. The timeline counties would need to adhere to is particularly onerous under the bill. Counties would be required to notify the public and test for certain water contaminants no more than four hours after becoming aware of a disruption in a water system. Compliance with these requirements, and the myriad others listed in the bill, would no doubt increase operating costs and expenses for ratepayers. (Source)
March 1, 2023
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) sent a warning letter to American Cruise Lines after 3 passengers developed Legionnaire’s disease and the company failed to adequately treat the ships’ drinking water. The first confirmed case of Legionnaire’s disease was reported in April 2021, with two more cases reported in September and October 2021. Between April and August 2022, FDA inspectors tested the drinking water on the American Star and American Heritage and found ongoing evidence of Legionella bacteria. 93% of water samples on the American Star tested positive for Legionella bacteria in April 2022, including samples taken from showerheads in the rooms for passengers and crew. (Source)
August 18, 2022
In 2019, Maryland state health officials confirmed that Legionella was found in the water system at the MDTA I-895/Baltimore Harbor Tunnel facility. According to Maryland State Health Department, 19 of 28 samples collected at the facility July 10 tested positive for Legionella, though at very low concentrations. Tests were done again July 12 following water treatment, and results showed significant improvement — only one of the 28 samples came back positive, again at very low concentrations.
Reported Settlements and Jury Awards
Given the incidence of legionella in Maryland, and its associated harm, personal injury claims and litigation are also becoming more frequent. Reported settlements and jury awards are unavailable at this time.
State Cap on Jury Awards
Maryland has a cap on the award amounts allowable by law. The Maryland statute places an $830,000 cap on non-economic damages for injuries and wrongful death cases. The cap increases to $1,245,000 in wrongful death cases if you include the cap on survival actions. If there are two or more claimants in a wrongful death case, the cap increases to $2,075,000. In addition, public health notices and negative media attention can also lead to business interruption and reputation damage.
Groundwater Temperature Risk Level – Medium
Overall Liability and Risk for Maryland – High
No, ASHRAE 188 is not part of the state code
Legionella and Water Management Plan Assistance
Need help? For Legionella consulting and services, Water Management Plans, Legionella Control Systems, and Legionella testing please contact us at Legionella Control Systems at 888-416-8626 or firstname.lastname@example.org