Israeli water-treatment system takes the fear out of Legionnaires Disease

Elgressy’s LPB system system is based on their already existing and effective water treatment systems which doesn’t use any chemicals or additives, and prevents scaling, corrosion and biofouling. In July 1976, at an American Legion convention in a Philadelphia hotel …

Elgressy’s LPB system system is based on their already existing and effective water treatment systems which doesn’t use any chemicals or additives, and prevents scaling, corrosion and biofouling. In July 1976, at an American Legion convention in a Philadelphia hotel to celebrate the country’s bicentennial, over 200 delegates became stricken with an acute pneumonia-like illness. Thirty-four patients eventually died of this mysterious epidemic which came to be known as Legionnaires’ Disease.

An investigation revealed that the bacteria causing the Legionnaires Disease thrived in the hotel’s cooling tower which provided the air conditioning supply, meaning the bacteria was actively being pumped into the hotel rooms and lobbies. While federal agencies all over the world are now requiring more stringent cleaning and hygiene provisions for cooling towers and large-scale air conditioning systems, almost 30,000 Americans have contracted the ailment since 1976, with 4,000 dying as a result.

Israeli company Elgressy has developed a system which it claims eradicates and controls the bacteria which causes Legionnaires Disease – Legionella Pneumophila – in all hot and cold water systems.

According to Elgressy CEO, Gabi Elgressy, legionella grows easily in the water, especially if algae and scale are present, and it may enter the air-conditioning system if there is a break between its ducts and those of the cooling tower or evaporative condenser. Legionella has also been found in hot water tanks, hot water propelled from shower heads and faucets and in whirlpool spas.

“We’ve been working on this for six years with a team of scientists, and the system underwent trials at the microbiology unit of Tel Aviv’s Assaf Harofe Hospital for a full year, and we found excellent results,” Elgressy told ISRAEL21c.

Recently, the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel’s largest medical center with 1,300 beds, ordered three LPB units for its complex. According to Robert Barzelay, chief of operations for All4Aqua, a business development company working with Elgressy and other water technology-related Israeli companies, legionella is most likely to rear its head in larger facilities.

“Most of our systems are currently being installed in hospitals, factories, prisons, places where there are a lot of people and good ventilation is needed,” he told ISRAEL21c.

Barzelay explained that the LPB system uses a patented electrolytic method. The principle of operation is to divert all the water of a water circuit through the LPB reaction tank, where electrolysis kills the microbes by means of an extremely high pH environment. The remnants of the microorganisms are then physically removed from the reaction tank.

Since no foreign substances are introduced, its use is not subject to stringent regulatory controls. The treatment inside the reaction tank does not change or influence the water chemistry in the water system: the content of the water-in is the same as of the water-out, evidently free of microorganisms.

Elgressy added that the system is based on already existing and effective water treatment systems developed by the 28-year-old company which doesn’t use any chemicals or additives, and prevents scaling, corrosion and biofouling.

“In much of Europe, a system is used that releases copper and silver ions into the water to kill the bacteria, but that has its own health risks. In fact, in Israel it’s against the law,” Barzelay pointed out.

“There were many problems with existing technologies regarding chemicals and resultant health hazards. Ours is a clean technology,” added Elgressy.

Established in the Netanya industrial business zone, Elgressy is a family-founded and run company with 12 full time employees. Its water treatment systems have been used for over two decades in Israel and Europe in industrial and commercial operations where there’s central air conditioning, or cooling water towers.

The technology was originally developed by a German-Danish company, but Elgressy’s scientists have been constantly finding new applications and developing advanced systems – like the LPB.

“We realized that our existing technology was adaptable for killing the bacteria that causes legionnaires disease, and decided to go forward with it,” said Elgressy.

Legionnaires’ disease usually begins with a headache, and pain in the muscles. These symptoms are followed by high fever (up to 104°-105°F) and shaking chills. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur. On the second or third day, dry coughing begins and chest pain might occur. Most patients develop pneumonia, which becomes so severe that hospitalization is required. Complete recovery can take several weeks.

“It doesn’t usually present a danger for the general public, but only for those with lower immune systems. Children, elderly and travelers are the primary subjects,” said Barzelay, adding that epidemics still occur with alarming regularity.

“In Holland, 17 people were recently infected and one died as a result. The bacteria was spread through small water particles in the cooling tower of an AC system,” he said.

Barzelay was speaking from the AquaTech 2006 trade show in Amsterdam, where Elgressy’s LPB system was making its international debut.

“We’re talking with distributors – and the response has been tremendous,” he said. “We’re going to approach the US market as well, but we’re doing this in stages.”