Image courtesy of Watts

Water treatment products for hospitals must contend with a variety of challenges within a complex, wide-ranging environment. Fortunately, the latest products are answering these challenges with new features and capabilities.

One major area of focus is the health and safety of the various water systems within a facility, ranging from air-conditioning cooling towers to kitchen and laundry applications. Additionally, the domestic hot water systems supplying public-access toilets, lavatories and showers in patient rooms and surgical applications require special attention. 

“Waterborne pathogens such as Legionella can exist in a dormant condition in incoming water supplies and within plumbing systems, but the concern is more acute within health care facilities, where people with compromised immune systems are susceptible to infection and illness,” says Patricia Provot, president of the Americas for Armstrong International, Three Rivers, Mich.

Water temperatures that are too high present a scald risk while water temperatures that are too low present an incubation risk. Thus, in addition to tight management of water temperature, attention must be paid to the “age of the water,” Provot adds. “How long is it sitting in storage tanks and at what temperature, and is the tank stratifying? What is the recirculation temperature to points of use and how much temperature does the water lose during its journey? How long does the water reside in the pipe ahead of infrequently used fixtures? These are all issues that a well-managed water system needs to address.”

Technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), data analytics and handheld electronics play an important role in water treatment programs. Michael Groh, strategic business leader at Kurita America, Minneapolis, sees a growing need to automate these programs. “As probe technology advances, Kurita America can manage water treatment programs remotely, set alarms and provide information through dashboards. In fact, our cooling water programs can be fully automated and managed securely through our phones.”

Minimizing risk

Aquanomix, Davidson, N.C., has added monitoring and analytics capabilities for potable water systems to its Symphony Software product line. This predictive IoT solution addresses precursors to waterborne pathogen development within the system. A “health score” is generated daily to help operators manage factors that contribute to risk. Aquanomix also has introduced a deposit monitor that senses real-time buildup inside piping systems, which allows for earlier detection of biofilm development.

“The potable water dashboard provides an overview of the current state of a water system, such as disinfectant level, water temperature and flow,” says Jennifer A. Caldwell, chief marketing officer at Aquanomix, who is ASSE 12080-certified. “Notifications are sent when key performance indicators are out of range.”

Kurita America has developed a water treatment program that uses monochloramine for potable water as a form of secondary disinfection to minimize the risk of waterborne pathogens. The use of monochloramine minimizes the risk of copper corrosion, according to Groh. 

“Kurita America’s objective when working with hospital HVAC systems is to reduce water, energy and chemical operational costs by using cooling, steam boiler and closed loop chemical treatment programs, pretreatment equipment such as customized reverse osmosis systems, and automation to optimize water treatment control,” Groh says.

3M Company, St. Paul, Minn., recently introduced the 3M High Flow Carbonless Absolute Series water filtration products, which help facilities managers protect staff and patients, as well as ice machines, by removing particulate, cysts and microorganisms from drinking water. 

“These carbonless filters are designed to maintain chlorine levels present in incoming water to help protect ice machines from biofilm buildup,” says Hemang Patel, lead application engineering specialist at 3M’s separations and purification sciences division. “The filters also offer sediment and microorganism reduction while providing critical protection from protozoan cysts.”

Other product features, according to Patel, include a bacteria retentive filter system with reduction of up to 99.99% of waterborne bacteria, a “sanitary quick change” encapsulated cartridge design that eliminates media contamination during changeouts, and a multi-zone pharmaceutical grade membrane with a 0.2-micron rating for reduction of particulate, silt and sediment that can clog downstream floats, valves and pumps in equipment. 

3M offers water filtration products for all types of health care facilities, including small off-site clinics and urgent care centers. These include 3M Aqua-Pure water filtration products that are used for filtering drinking water at point-of-entry into the building and at faucets and drinking water appliances, and 3M High Flow Series water filtration products that are used for filtering water for food service equipment used to make ice, cold beverages, coffee and tea, and to cook food by using steam. 

Feeding into systems

PureLine Treatment Systems LLC, Bensenville, Ill., specializes in the manufacture, generation and application of chlorine dioxide. Its solutions center on treating hospital water systems to prevent and remediate biofilm where harmful microorganisms can grow and lead to health care-associated infections. To that end, the company has introduced an on-site chlorine dioxide generation system, the HP Chlorine Dioxide Generator, which feeds into hospital water systems to inhibit biofilm and protect water systems and patients from Legionella. 

“PureLine’s electrochemical cells produce a 99.5% pure, chlorine-free, chlorine dioxide solution with a single-precursor liquid,” says CEO Bob Sullivan. “The pure chlorine dioxide is delivered on demand, safely and efficiently, without the need for an external storage tank. The system can feed multiple dosage points simultaneously, allowing for several applications from a single generator.” Also, the equipment continually measures chlorine dioxide residual to ensure the system is in compliance.

LiquiTech Inc., Lombard, Ill., offers a copper silver ionization (CSI) system, a chemical-free water treatment technology for Legionella, according to David Pierre, director of water safety programs and an ASSE 12080-certified Legionella water safety and management specialist. “Copper and silver ions are introduced into the water using a byproduct-free method to mitigate the risk of waterborne pathogens. While we’ve been providing CSI for some time, we continue to include upgrades such as remote monitoring, real-time diagnostics and alarms.” 

LiquiTech also has developed the “liqui-filtra” point-of-entry filtration solution designed to reduce sediment. “The liqui-filtra, when partnered with our ultraviolet system — which utilizes Crossfire Technology that is self-cleaning, self-monitoring and fail-safe — serves as a facility’s first line of defense,” Pierre says. “Lastly, our [0.2-micron] point-of-use filters prevent harmful pathogens from coming in contact with users and are particularly important for protecting people who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.” 

Watts, North Andover, Mass., offers the Powers IntelliStation digital water mixing system, which is designed to deliver tempered hot water throughout a recirculation loop in health care facilities. “Our digital solutions can be integrated into building automation systems to allow facilities managers to remotely monitor and control water temperatures,” says Bruce Fathers, senior product manager at Watts. 

For commercial domestic water systems, mixed outlet temperature is important, Fathers says. “IntelliStation systems allow storage of water at high temperatures and delivery to point-of-use at safe temperatures,” he adds. “Our digital mixing controller processes data from mixed temperature outlet sensors and signals an actuator to make adjustments that maintain setpoints in real time. Sensors relay key system data to gauge pressure, temperature and flow for troubleshooting and optimization.”

Watts’ water treatment systems are available in a size range that makes them suitable for large and small health care facilities. One example is IntelliStation Jr. with IoT capabilities (a smaller version of IntelliStation), a digital mixing valve that allows users to remotely control and monitor tempered water distribution.

Facilities managers can achieve safety at a glance with remote visibility on the Watts OnSite mobile and web app. Configurable on-site and easy to install, IntelliStation Jr. does not require factory pre-programming, a laptop or special software when commissioning or making adjustments.

The right fixtures

On the fixtures side, Chicago Faucets, Des Plaines, Ill., has introduced a new line of shower products designed to release and drain water from the shower system automatically after each use. The valves, along with a hand spray that also features a drain in the hose, help eliminate stagnant water in the shower system and reduce areas where pathogenic bacteria can thrive.

“In health care and assisted living applications, showers are a source of contamination and distribution of Legionella and other bacteria,” says Greg Hunt, commercial product manager at Chicago Faucets. “Stagnant water in the pipes of shower systems can become a breeding ground for this type of bacteria. Our auto-drain products were designed to help reduce that threat.”

Likewise, Armstrong International provides water heating, water temperature control and point-of-use fixtures that help hospitals comply with a specific standard of care. It also offers The Brain digital recirculation valve for temperature control of water. 

Armstrong’s Ascend and Rada Digital Faucet are the company’s latest digital innovations, both of which encompass The Brain. Ascend offers an on-demand, tankless hot water generation and control solution that reduces energy use and mitigates risks for waterborne pathogens and scalding. 

“These three products — The Brain, Ascend and Rada Digital Faucet — operate within an ecosystem branded as Armada, a total hot water system engineered to deliver a high level of user safety, infection control and compliance — from mechanical room to the point-of-use,” Provot says.

Armstrong’s solutions can interface with third-party, on-premises and internet-hosted building automation systems. “All of our products can utilize these technologies and can be linked together via SAGE, our cloud-based monitoring, recording and documentation software, providing temperature and system diagnostic alerts in real-time and a multi-location view from a single dashboard,” Provot adds.

AquaMedix, Eden Prairie, Minn., offers the AquaFree fixed showerhead AS Wallshower (P/N: 49414) for potable water systems, which improves hospital operations by allowing for fast and easy filter exchanges. “It is similar to showerheads found in residential homes and does not require any tools to install or replace,” says CEO Brady Benson. “Featuring 7-log bacteria reduction as well as high-flow and high-capacity, it is a disposable system that provides adequate water flow for a normal shower experience.”

AquaMedix also offers the CleanSpray faucet filter FX (P/N: 1690), which is equipped with a tamper-resistant compliance connector that prevents accidental removal or bypassing to minimize contamination and exposure. Its design allows for installation in shallow sinks or on short faucets. Also, water flow is offset from the drain to prevent backsplash of waterborne pathogens.

Smaller health care facilities typically do not implement secondary water treatment plans, Benson adds. “That is why point-of-use filtration is a critical tool in so many applications.”

Smart and sustainable

Water treatment will continue to move to more sustainable product development, advanced automation, and methods to optimize or reuse water for steam and cooling systems while protecting equipment assets, Groh says. 

Caldwell predicts that advances in digital systems will include conversational analytics, machine learning and intelligent predictive analysis.

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Powers IntelliStation digital water mixing systems deliver tempered hot water throughout a recirculation loop. Watts

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This new line of shower products is designed to release and drain water from the shower system automatically after each use. Chicago Faucets

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The HP Chlorine Dioxide Generator feeds into hospital water systems to inhibit growth of biofilm. PureLine Treatment Systems LLC

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The Rada Digital Faucet is a critical component of a successful water management program. Armstrong International

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The LiquiTech copper silver ionization system is a chemical-free water treatment technology. Liquitech Inc.

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AquaFree fixed showerhead for potable water systems allows for fast and easy filter exchanges. AquaMedix

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Symphony Software analyzes and alerts on the risks associated with a hospital’s water system, creating a healthier environment of care. Aquanomix

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The 3M High Flow Carbonless Absolute Series water filtration products help protect ice machines by removing particulate, cysts and microorganisms from water. 3M Company

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Total Solution EnergyOUT reduces chemical, water and energy usage. Kurita America

Neal Lorenzi is a Mundelein, Ill.-based contributor to Health Facilities Management.