Archive for the ‘Disease Prevention’ Category

4 Steps to Combat the Spread of the Flu

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As this flu season continues, it’s an appropriate time for us to review how we can help combat the spread of influenza. A lot of resources are wasted every year with improper disinfection methods that have no effect in stopping the spread of the flu.

Four key steps to keep in mind:

  1. Utilize extra cleaning resources while the building is occupied. Influenza viruses will typically only survive on a surface for two to eight hours. Bringing in extra help to clean while the building is unoccupied has no benefit.
  2. Use EPA-registered disinfectants to frequently disinfect high-touch areas such as door knobs, drinking fountains, and table surfaces. Also clean or disinfect these surfaces often, while the building is being occupied.
  3. Don’t waste resources on disinfecting surfaces where the transmission of the flu is unlikely to occur. Floors and walls are good examples of surfaces in public facilities that are disinfected when no need exists.
  4. Wash those hands! Encourage facility managers to promote hand hygiene, and ensure they have enough hand sanitizing stations. Proper hand hygiene is the most crucial step in stopping the spread of the flu.

This time of year is also a time for increased cases of Norovirus. Be sure to use an EPA-registered disinfectant. Hillyard QT-TB® and Hllyard QT® 3 are both EPA-registered with kill claims again Influenza A and Norovirus, with both products offering lower required contact time to disinfect for these disease-causing viruses.

For more information concerning influenza, norovirus, or for more information pertaining to other disease-causing organisms, please reach out to us.

Hydrogen Peroxide vs. Quats

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Written by:  Mark McInnesThe list of active ingredients available for disinfectants is lengthy and full of trade-offs, which involve finding the balance between the right amount of infection prevention properties while protecting the health of staff, building occupants, and the environment.Disinfectants are created with one purpose: to kill microbes and pathogens. In other words, by definition, disinfectants are destructive to cells, which means none are completely harmless. However, some active ingredients are safer for human health and the environment than others.

Common traditional active ingredients in disinfectants include alcohol, phenol, and chlorine. These chemicals can have risks associated with them ranging from flammability to long-lasting health effects, including occupational asthma. Understanding your active ingredients can help you make a more in-depth analysis of your choices.

For the purposes of this article, we will look at the active ingredients in hydrogen peroxide and some forms of quaternary ammonium compounds, which are generally considered to have less long-lasting health and environmental impacts. Understanding the basic science behind how disinfectants and their active ingredients work, and why some are safer, can help purchasers decide which disinfectants will work best for their facilities’ distinct needs.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is often recognized as one of the safest types of disinfectants, both for human health and the environment. Most people are familiar with the hydrogen peroxide that is available in a brown bottle at the pharmacy. This is the 3% variety that can go on a wound or used as a mouthwash.

Hydrogen peroxide has a really nice environmental footprint. The breakdown components are water and oxygen. It has a very good health and safety profile, too. If you can use 3% to wash your mouth out at the dentist, you can be pretty confident that your health risk from exposure to it is limited.

Used as a disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide is active against a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores. Peroxides are oxidizing agents, which means they work by pulling electrons from other molecules in the cells.

Hydrogen peroxide literally attacks pathogens. This means the disinfectant that uses hydrogen peroxide as its main active ingredient can have an excellent kill claim; however, it can be unstable. If it comes into contact with other molecules like organics and soil that haven’t been cleaned before the disinfectant was sprayed, then effectiveness will degrade. Processes that include thorough cleaning before the disinfectant application will need to be a high priority when using hydrogen peroxide disinfectants.

Quats

Quaternary ammonium compounds, or quats, are generally considered to be somewhat less toxic than more traditional active ingredients like bleach and phenolics. However, when used at higher concentrations, quats can have health implications that include skin and respiratory irritation. For certain circumstances where stability and broad kill claims are critical, quats can be safer to use than other hospital-grade disinfectants with more traditional active ingredients.

Quats are generally fungicidal, bactericidal, and virucidal. Quats are generally understood to be catalytic, which means they aren’t destroyed in the process of killing the pathogens.

Quats get their name because there is a nitrogen in the middle of the molecule, and the nitrogen has four chains coming off of it. There are hundreds of different quats, and the labeling and discussion of them can become very detailed and specific. In addition, each quat has a different environmental profile. Some are more biodegradable than others, and the ones that are biodegradable will break down into different molecules, with different environmental footprints, all depending on the type of quat.

Like hydrogen peroxide, quats have a dental use, as they are often an active ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash. They are considered safe enough to put in your mouth at low concentrations.

When it comes to the health risks associated with quats, it is often a matter of concentration. As the market demands quicker contact times and broader kill claims, some disinfectants will use higher concentrations of quats. Higher concentrations will come with increased health warnings.

In the last couple of years, you have seen quats used in disinfectants increase from a few hundred parts per million up to 3,000 parts per million and higher. Those concentrations begin to have health and environmental risks to them, although they do have shorter dwell times and broader kill claims.

Decision Outcomes

Any disinfecting solution you choose to bring into your infection prevention program will be an important aspect of a much larger program that must include planning, training, and fully understanding the processes needed to allow that disinfectant to prevent the spread of infection.

Mark McInnes

Mark McInnes holds a master’s degree in environmental and life sciences; he also has a certificate in infection prevention and control. McInnes frequently speaks across Canada and the United States on issues of infection prevention and the cleaning industry.

Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting

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Written by: Patrick Haile

What’s the Difference? Let’s start with the definitions, so that we are all clear on what cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are.

Cleaning – is the process of removing unwanted substances, such as dirt, infectious agents, and other impurities, from an object or environment. Cleaning deals heavily with use of surfactants. Surfactants attach and lift soil out of surfaces.

Sanitizing – is the process of reducing the growth of bacteria so that a surface can be deemed hyenic from a public health perspective. Though sanitization is present in many different industries, the sewage and food service industries capitalize on sanitization the most.

Disinfecting – is the process by which one frees a surface from infection by destroying harmful microorganisms. This includes bacteria and viruses. Disinfectants must be 99.999% effective to be considered disinfectants.

Now that we know the goal of each process—let’s talk about when cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are appropriate!

Cleaning is always appropriate and generally should be done at the highest frequency. I cannot stress enough that cleaning (i.e. removing soil from surfaces) also removes bacteria and viruses. Cleaning does not kill microorganisms, but it removes a significant percentage of them. That being said, most sanitizers and disinfectants do not work well if there is heavy soil on a surface. Surfaces need to be cleaned before sanitizers and disinfectants are applied.

Sanitizing is most appropriate where bacteria need to be reduced significantly. In order for a sanitizer to be considered effective, it must kill 99.9% of microorganisms in 30 seconds. This process is mostly used on surfaces in the food service industry.

Disinfecting is most appropriate on surfaces that are touched most frequently. There are instances where a whole room might need to be disinfected top to bottom, but from an everyday standpoint only areas that come in contact with human or animal matter need to be disinfected. This includes but is not limited to knobs/handles, water fountains, paper dispensers, toilets, and desks.

Disinfection processes can and should differ from location to location. A hospital would arguably need the highest level of disinfection as opposed to a recycling plant where high levels of disinfection would be a waste of time and money. Kindergarten and daycare centers often have high frequency protocols for disinfection.

Practical Application: Flu season in late 2017 into early 2018 was arguably one of the worst the United States had experienced in years. The vaccine was largely ineffective and public schools saw attendance rates drop as much as 20% for small periods of time. Using the formerly mentioned information of the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting—a church preschool in Rock Hill was able to maintain the vast majority of their student body through flu season. At most the preschool was at a loss for 1-2%.

The following is their flu season disinfection protocol:

  • Clean and wipe all surfaces with multipurpose cleaner, including restrooms.
  • Use a food grade sanitizer on tables, shelves, and large toys.
  • Use hospital grade disinfectant on touch points, restrooms, and at the users’ discretion.
  • If bodily fluids come in contact with a surface during school hours, see bodily fluid protocol for flu season. (Number 4 would require the writing of a whole new article)

This is the extent of the protocol. These duties are typically performed by only one or two people at this specific location. A small portion of the building is basically cleaned twice every day. One might think ‘wow that’s a great deal of work for two people’. This is true, so here’s a secret. The location in question uses an Electrostatic Sprayer to aid in the delivery of their disinfectants and sanitizers. Instead of tackling the preschool room by room the cleaners use the sprayer to quickly administer their chemicals. This saves them time and energy and this time and energy is used elsewhere in the facility.

Hopefully the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection are now apparent. Cleaning must be done before sanitizing and disinfecting, and cleaning can physically remove microorganisms from surfaces. Sanitizing is most appropriate for areas where bacteria need to be reduced and disinfecting needs to be done frequently and especially on surfaces that are touched often. Feel free to use this information in writing your own disinfection protocol! It just might come and in handy next time we have a particularly hard flu season.

 

Patrick Haile has been involved in the cleaning industry for 7 years. He is currently an Account Manager, specializing in the oversight of Educational and Religious accounts. 

Flu Prevention

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The flu is everywhere!  Here is what you need to know for flu prevention in your workplace.  Our Proactive Guideline for Preventing the Flu can be found here.  We also have a Reactive Guideline for the Flu for School Districts here, which can easily be adapted to the average work environment.

Also, please take a few minutes to watch the news clip about Victory Innovations units below.  This is ideal for school districts and locations with high populations of people.  We have handheld sprayers and backpacks in stock.  Please let us know if you would like us to stop by this week for a demo.

To get pricing or schedule a demo, call 803-329-4790 or email us back.