AC-linked bacteria found in top city hotels

Three five-star hotels were among the several hotels and resorts in Shanghai to be pulled up for improper maintenance of its air-conditioning system.

Three five-star hotels were among the several hotels and resorts in Shanghai to be pulled up for improper maintenance of their air-conditioning systems, local health authorities said yesterday. 

With the city deep into the winter season, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission carried out checks on the air-conditioning ventilation systems in 130 hotels across the city.

The inspections included both on-site and lab tests. Twenty-five hotels failed to meet regulations and hygienic standards. 

Excessive legionella pneumophila, a pathogenic group of bacteria that causes pneumonia and respiratory failure, were found in the air-conditioning cooling water in seven hotels, including the three top-rated hotels, health authorities said in a statement.

The five-star hotels are JW Marriott Shanghai at Tomorrow Square, Langham Shanghai Xintiandi in Huangpu District, and Le Meridien in Minhang District.

Langham admitted yesterday that it was made aware of the problem during the inspection, but said it had acted on it immediately and rectified it. 

The hotel told Shanghai Daily that the authorities had already conducted another round of inspection and it was waiting for the results.

JW Marriott also confirmed the inspection report. It said the building's management company was responsible for the hotel’s air-conditioning. The company said it had rectified the problem and had sent the necessary samples for second tests.

The hotel said it will follow up on the report. 

Deng Xingqi, a doctor at Zhoupu Hospital in the Pudong New Area, said legionella pneumophila was linked to the air-conditioning systems.

“It can cause cough, expectoration and pneumonia,” Deng said. “It causes respiratory diseases in people with hypoimmunity, and even leads to death due to respiratory failure in most serious cases.”

He said regular cleaning and disinfecting the air-conditioning systems can reduce the risk.

Bacteria in air flow ducts in nine other hotels, including Sofitel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental in Songjiang District, were found to be over the acceptable limit. 

Tests also confirmed that another three hotels had unacceptable levels of fungus on the internal surface of the air-conditioning wind pipes.

Elsewhere, the Honghua Resort Shanghai in Chongming District was faulted for failing to clean the air-conditioning ventilation system regularly as required; the Wyndham Bund East Shanghai in Yangpu District had excessive small particulate matter (PM10) in the airflow from its conditioners; the Jinchen Hotel in Huangpu District had too much dirt retention at the ducts of its ventilation system.

The commission confirmed that most hotels had rectified the problems while four hotels in Huangpu and two in Pudong were in the process of doing so.

Interestingly, all the 10 hotels inspected in Songjiang District failed the tests.

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