Jud Savelle: Guidance on Disinfectant Application and Contractor Services
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Guidance on Proper Use of Disinfectants (Antimicrobials)
Many contractors today are selling several disinfectant products and application methods for customers in the Albany, GA area. Like any disaster or contamination situation, consumers should be educated on the products and services they are purchasing. Not all disinfecting products and methods are safe and reliable, and not all contractors selling disinfecting services are properly trained to apply them. The following guidelines can help guide consumers in purchasing services.
Any contractor selling disinfecting services should hold a certification qualifying them by training and knowledge about appropriate product selection and application. Some examples in the restoration industry include the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), or the Restoration Industry Association (RIA). In the Janitorial industry, this may include the Building Services Contractors Association International (BSCAI), or International Sanitary Suppliers Association (ISSA). Other associations in both the cleaning and restoration industries share knowledge about applying disinfectants. Contractors should be able to show proof of training and certification for disinfectant application. This ensures that they fully understand how to apply and use the products they bring into homes or facilities.
Disinfectants vary widely in their toxicity toward humans. Not all disinfectants are safe for humans, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE; e.g., gloves, goggles, respirators) always is recommended when applying them. Also, it is recommended that surfaces be cleaned with an appropriate detergent before disinfectants are applied. Otherwise, reaction with soils can render disinfectants ineffective. Further, some disinfectants (ammonium chloride based) leave residues that should be cleaned from surfaces after application, especially food-preparation or consumption surfaces. Moreover, most disinfectants must be provided at least 10 minutes of “dwell” time to kill microorganisms including fungi, bacteria and viruses. Botanical disinfectants, such as those containing thyme and lemongrass oils, have low human toxicity, and are preferred in most applications, especially in restaurants and child-occupied facilities. Look for EPA Registration on product labels or Safety Data Sheets.
Many contractors are using Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fogging to apply disinfectants in commercial or residential spaces. ULV fogging is an adjunct to, and not a replacement for, manual cleaning with appropriate detergent (see section below on Cleaning vs. Disinfecting). According to most product formulators, personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for ULV fogging, and unprotected occupants should leave spaces during wet fogging, and for up to 2 hours following application. During the fogging process micro-droplets are dispersed in air and can remain there for several hours, which is why safety instructions from formulators must be followed closely. Botanical disinfectants may require less evacuation time, due to their low toxicity. Never stay in your home or office during any fogging or misting application.
Thermal foggers use heat in the fogging process, which renders many disinfecting products inert. Do not allow a contractorto thermal-fog a disinfectant, since no actual disinfecting typically will occur.
Special Notes to Restaurants and Child-Occupied Facilities
Products with quaternary ammonium chlorides may not be appropriate for ULV fogging in restaurants without proper follow- up procedures. These products state that, when applied with a ULV fogger, they must be given 2-4 hours to settle out of the air, then food preparation and consumption surfaces must be wiped clean using a food-grade sanitizer or detergent. In a child-occupied facility, disinfecting products may come into contact with toys or other items that could cause residues to be ingested by a child. Carefully study product labels for application instruction for restaurants and child-occupied facilities.
Cleaning Versus Disinfecting
Most disinfectants state that surfaces must be clean prior to application, which requires manual cleaning with appropriate detergent. This is because soiled surfaces can prevent contact between disinfecting agents and the virus itself, and reaction with surface soils can render a disinfectant inactive. This cleaning does not necessarily have to be done by the same contractor applying disinfectant. However, when hiring a contractor to apply disinfectant using a ULV or spray mist, you should ensure that the surface has been cleaned by yourself, or a qualified cleaning contractor, or by the contractor applying disinfectant. It is also worth noting that not all disinfectants may be used as cleaners, unless specified by the product label. Always discuss the cleanliness of your facility in detail with your contractor to ensure that proper disinfecting occurs.
If you do not hire a professional contractor for disinfecting services, it is important that you review other guidelines specified in this document, and follow formulator label directions. Always wear PPE according to product formulator label instructions, and always apply products according to label specifications. Remember, to be effective, most products require a clean surface and a minimum of 10 minutes of wet contact with the disinfecting product. Always apply disinfectants and leave them to air dry. If you immediately wipe a surface dry, you may prevent the disinfectant from completely killing the virus.
Using Bleaches as Disinfectants
There are two common bleaches used in homes and businesses today: 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and 5.25-6% household chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Peroxide should be used in the 3% solution, but chlorine bleach should be diluted to a 1⁄2% solution (mixed 1:10; i.e., one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts of water). When used at that dilution, household chlorine bleach is a useful fungicide, bactericide and virucide, including killing emerging pathogens such as Covid-19. However, chlorine bleach can be toxic to humans, corrosive to metals, and damaging to many household dyes, fabrics and surfaces with overuse. Chlorine bleach, as a disinfectant, is not recommended for use in most home and office applications, and other alternatives should be used when possible.
What Disinfectants Kill COVID-19
No disinfectant, at this time, may make a claim on their EPA-registered label that the product is proven effective at killing the COVID-19 Coronavirus. This is because COVID-19 is novel and actual testing has not occurred. The EPA’s anti-microbial product List N is based on Emerging Pathogen claims, however many disinfectants meet the Emerging Pathogen efficacy requirements and may not have been qualified yet for List N. Always check product Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from product formulators on any product a contractor is using for disinfecting. All major formulators have released statements and disclaimers on their products, and these are readily available for access on the formulator’s web site, or by contacting them directly.
This document was prepared using information from reliable government sources by Bishop Clean Care, Inc., an IICRC-Certified firm in Albany, GA, for educating the general public on choosing a reputable contractor for disinfecting services during a time of national crisis. The provider makes no representations, warranties or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein, or that it use will result in compliance with any applicable laws, rules or regulations, or in safe, satisfactory or complete performance of a decontamination project. Users of this document assume all risks and liability resulting from use of and reliance upon information contained herein. Application of the information contained herein is dependent upon the type of facility being treated and the overall health of facility occupants. This document may be shared publicly with no specific credits required.