04/01/2013 04:10 EDT | Updated 06/01/2013 05:12 EDT

New rules to fight legionnaires' not enough says chemist

Quebec may have adopted new rules for the maintenance of water cooling towers following last summer’s deadly outbreak of legionnaires' disease, but some critics say it isn’t enough.

Philippe Boileau, a water treatment chemist of 30 years, said the new law doesn’t force building owners to have their water treatment plans overseen by specialists — a potentially fatal mistake.

“If a chemist is not involved in water treatment chemistry for cooling towers, unfortunately, mistakes will be made again,” he said.

Trained chemists could have caught the problems in Quebec City, he added.

Thirteen people died and over 170 people fell ill from legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia, last year.

The source of the outbreak was found to be a cooling tower at the Complexe Jacques Cartier building in Quebec City.

“They didn't check if there was a deposit within the cooling system and these deposits were not removed prior to disinfection, which means the [disinfection process was] ... not efficient,” said Boileau.

In the wake of the outbreak in Quebec City, the government asked the Régie du bâtiment du Québec to draw up new regulations to keep the bacteria in check.

The Order of Chemists mandated Boileau to make recommendations to the Régie on their behalf.

But he said he believes the new law, which goes into effect in May, should be more detailed and force water samples to be tested independently.

Sylvain Lamothe, a spokesman for the Régie, said the bill tackles the main problems and that it’s just a first step.