Cleaning for Health
Daniel Bernazzani PhD
Sr. Vice President
YOUNG & Associates Environmental Division
With Coronavirus (Covid – 19) so widespread, I thought it might help to understand the role disinfectants and cleaning plays. Much attention is devoted to disinfectants and hand sanitizers, but cleaning with detergent and water should not be dismissed or overlooked. Today, Coronavirus (Covid-19) is widespread. In our built environments, exposure can be great and health impacts serious. To reduce the likelihood of spread, clean and disinfect touched surfaces frequently (i.e., tabletops, counters, doorknobs, touchpads, etc.) If surfaces are dirty, clean them first with detergent and water. Bar soap, liquid soap, laundry detergent and more are very effective at breaking apart the virus. Viruses can be cleaned from surfaces, that is why you wash your hands thoroughly, at least twenty seconds. Soap dissolves the fatty layer that protects the virus and prevents it from infecting a cell. If you want to be most effective with disinfectants clean the surface first. Disinfectants use chemical action to kill or inactivate a virus.
In my years in the restoration industry I have learned that hidden and viable microbes remained when they were presumed to have been removed during the cleaning process. While indoor environments are cleaned to protect people and contents – good health is today’s primary concern. There is no doubt that businesses that emphasize cleaning for health will be in strong demand.
To evolve and advance our understanding of cleaning contaminated surfaces followed by effective disinfection requires the individual performing the cleaning to carefully follow directions. For example, some “disinfecting wipes” have the statement to clean and remove allergens: Wipe surface clean and let it air dry. That’s great but read on – the same label states: To disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces: “Wipe surface, use enough wipes for treated surface to remain visibly wet for 4 minutes. For highly soiled surfaces, clean excess dirt first.”
So, while you can use the wipes to remove allergens, to disinfect the surface you should start with a clean surface and the surface (non-porous) should remain visibly wet for 4 minutes. Why – it takes time for disinfectants to inactivate microorganisms.
Our ability to have control over our environment sets us apart from other species. We can all control disease by life-saving hygiene done properly and often fall into the aforementioned criteria. These products may be on hold under the DOA rejection of the site. The determination on the status of these goods often establishes the size of the contents loss. Obviously, nobody wants contaminated goods released into the consumer marketplace. If goods are determined to be potentially contaminated, the optimum place to contain their disposition is where they are situated in a storage facility, and prior to potential distribution into the retail world. The highly trained DOA rep can make these decisions based on learned criteria, and apply them to the product and packaging involved. The DOA rep will outline, if any, the acceptable treatment procedures to be implemented to save the products in question from destruction.
Following these guidelines recently led to a positive conclusion on a sizeable contents loss. The DOA approved the retention of the sealed products by the insured, thus allowing their buy-back. The effect was increasing the salvage sale, and placing the goods under a salvage title. This action produced immediate raw materials for the insured, reduced the loss of existing customer orders, allowed the insured to retain their employees, and minimized the BI period to no more than the time required to clean the facility and pass inspection. It was truly the best possible outcome for all involved.