DPS working to flush Legionella from affected buildings, all buildings now being tested

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton Public Schools is working to eliminate potentially-dangerous Legionella bacteria from at least three district buildings. Additionally, all district water systems are now being tested. There are no staff or student illnesses so far. 

Louise Troy PreK-6 is one of three buildings that tested positive for Legionella, and they’re all being flushed and chlorinated Monday. Staff is working at the buildings that tested negative. 

DPS Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli says, “We should be back to normal tomorrow. But we’re going to put into place what we would do for a boil alert.” 

Plumbers were working quickly Monday to clear the water systems at the buildings. Not having students in the buildings has helped, as has shutting down the water fountains. 

Dan Suffoletto is the public information officer at Public Health of Dayton Montgomery County. He says, “The bacteria comes in the air and you breathe it in, so it’s aerosolized in mist. It can be found in showers and fountains any source of water where mist is coming up.” 

Legionella affects people differently. At its worst it can be deadly, so it’s important to get it out of the system quickly. Suffoletto says, “You can do flushing, you can do chlorination, you can do superheating, any or all of those combinations can work depending on where it’s found and what the makeup of that system is.” 

DPS buildings have been underused since in-person learning was stopped in March. And the staff that are in the building are not using the same amount of water as hundreds of students. 

Dr. Lolli says, “They won’t necessarily always go to a kitchenette and turn on the sinks, and won’t necessarily go and turn on water in cafeterias.” 

But Dr. Lolli says building maintenance will now make sure the bacteria cannot develop again. “Going to have to be regular flushing to make sure the water’s being used. Making sure sinks in bathrooms are being run. One of the jobs our custodians carry out.”  

DPS began testing its buildings at random after several other Miami Valley districts reported legionella in their water systems. Per EPA recommendations, the three buildings with legionella will be re-tested in a few weeks. 

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