Reflections on 2022 from Dr. Miller

The year’s end is always a time for reflection, and as I look back on 2022 through the lens of our company mission of disease prevention, I see continual progress in our fight to prevent Legionnaires’ disease (LD) and other environmentally-linked infectious diseases.

Of course, much of our success has been the result of a terrific EST staff, who understand our mission, and who work tirelessly and enthusiastically for its implementation.  Thus, my recognition and thanks go to them first!

Positive Changes in the Industry

Doctor Richard MillerThere have been major positive changes in the water-care industry over the years that have facilitated our progress in LD prevention.  Most important has been the publication of the ANSI-ASHRAE Legionella Standard 188 in 2015, along with the follow-up CDC Toolkit for guidance on carrying out this Standard.  As a result, there is now a rather universal acceptance of Standard 188 for the writing and implementation of building Water Management Programs (WMP) to control LD, in both healthcare and other relevant public buildings.  EST’s role in this LD prevention is in environmental testing for the required validation step in the WMP’s Legionella control processes.  Also positively impacting the progress in Legionella control has been the ASSE/IAPMO/ANSI 12080 Legionella Water Safety and Management Specialist Certification Program, providing education and training for individuals to acquire the essential Legionella infection prevention knowledge and skills.

Changes to the EST Legionella Testing Toolkit

Our own Legionella testing toolkit also had some new tools at our disposal in 2022, especially our new molecular Legionella viable vPCR test.  This test gives a quantitative CFU/ml result within 24 hours, not the 7-10 days that is usually required for a culture test result.  Thus, any out-of-control water systems can be responded to and corrected quickly, decreasing the Legionella exposure to the public.

New and Old Pathogen Targets and Tests

Beyond Legionella, we continue to test for a variety of other serious waterborne pathogens in healthcare, including the CMS pathogens: Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Burkholderia, Stenotrophomonas, Mycobacterium, and fungi (molds and yeasts).  And it is noteworthy that our vPCR molecular technology has now been extended to include the slow-growing Mycobacterium, giving CFU/ml results for both M. avium and M. intracellulare pathogens within 24 hours, instead of the 4-6 weeks required for culture!  This is a gamechanger!  Disease-related special requests have also led us to increase our target pathogens for hospitals.  These potable water investigations have included Ellizabethkingia meningoseptica, ESBL Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Cronobacter sakazakii.  Finally, we continue to test regularly for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in food production facilities.

Accreditation Move

EST made a major move in 2022 to change our laboratory accreditation to a more relevant accrediting body.  We discontinued our laboratory accreditation through the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and moved our ISO 17025 accreditation to the more relevant organization, the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB), which is the largest accreditation body in North America and provides services in more than 75 countries.  We have, of course, maintained our long-standing Legionella certification through the CDC ELITE program.

Looking Ahead to 2023

Finally, as the reach of EST’s microbiology testing continues to penetrate the market, we now recognize that our mission (along with the mission of many others) to prevent Legionnaires’ disease is within our grasp.  Let us hope that as we move through 2023 that we will be able to realize an ever-increasing portion of this goal!

Thanks to everyone who supported EST in 2022.  I sincerely wish you all a relaxing and rewarding holiday season with family and friends, and a Happy New Year!

Richard D. Miller, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer and President
Environmental Safety Technologies

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