Environmental Protection

Copper Ionization Ban Shouldn't Compromise Legionella Control: HSE

The agency alerted users and suppliers of copper ionization water treatment systems that this method is prohibited by the EU beginning Feb. 1, 2013.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive posted a notice Nov. 29 alerting users and suppliers of water treatment systems that use elemental copper they cannot use that method after Feb. 1, 2013, because as of that day it is prohibited by the EU. It will also be illegal to supply the copper needed for such systems, which add copper ions to water as a biocide.

"The action has been taken at EU Level under the Biocidal Products Directive because no manufacturer supported the use of elemental copper for use as biocides in these systems during a review period that ended in September 2011," the notice stated. "HSE's primary concern is that legionella control is not compromised. Businesses and organisations have a responsibility to manage the risks from legionella and it is essential that these duties continue to be met. In addition, HSE intends to pursue an 'essential use derogation' for use of copper in legionella control systems in the UK. We encourage users of these water treatment systems to contact the manufacturer to discuss a way forward."

The notice added, "As we cannot predict the outcome of any application that is submitted we are bringing the current situation to the attention of dutyholders. Moreover, any such application, successful or not, will not be determined by 1 February 2013, therefore, these systems will still be classed as illegal from this date. The primary concern of HSE and LAs is that legionella control is not compromised. We will therefore take a sensible and proportionate approach to enforcement if we come across any of these systems after 1 February 2013." It says there were not be enforcement actions taken specifically for these systems, if found; any enforcement related to them would come from site visits for other primary purposes.

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