Coronavirus Decontamination

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What You Need to Know Before Hiring a

Company for Coronavirus Decontamination

Decontaminating Coronavirus

Behind the Scenes

illustration, virus, corona

Supply Shortages

The demand for decontamination and cleaning services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have created a shortage of disinfectants, application devices, and properly trained and certified personnel. Almost overnight anyone with a mop and bucket or a fogger and bottle of chemicals is an expert in industrial hygiene using anything and everything to fog office buildings, hotel rooms, business, and homes.

Health Risks

The improper application, implementation, or treatment while cleaning and disinfecting can result in severe illness, blindness, respiratory damage, even death. According to new studies by the CDC, respiratory emergencies from improper disinfectant fogging are sky rocketing.

Legal Liability

Beyond the medical issues, the liability issues associated with illegal disinfectant (biocide) use and/or application are a major concern. Employers and building owners who have their buildings, vehicles, and equipment decontaminated with either products or procedures that are contrary to EPA product label directions are in violation of Federal Law and can be sued by employees and customers for any and all future illnesses including wrongful death.

Wrongful Death

If your premises are treated in a manner in violation of Federal Law and you are sued for wrongful death, you can't win. A jury will always find against the company that “cut corners” and did not follow EPA/CDC procedures / recommendations.

Airborne Transmission

According to the CDC, transmission of Coronavirus is via airborne transmission. Not by surface contact. Yet, almost all disinfecting is focused on surface disinfecting. That does not make it right. Going through the motions; hiring someone that says they disinfect in no way protects you from liability. Make sure the air is disinfected or exchanged (ventilated) along with surface cleaning.

Know the Products

Make sure you pre-approve the disinfectants and application methods used in your facility by verifying the EPA label directions on the back of the container. Remember marketing materials and manufacturers' sites rarely match the EPA product label.

Do Your Homework

CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfection for Households

Interim Recommendations for U.S. Households with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Questions to Ask Cleaning and Decon Companies

to Ensure they are CDC/EPA-Compliant

And to Reduce your Liability and Protect Employee & Client Health

Don’t be mislead by marketing that says “we use strong disinfectants approved for hospital use.” That means that they are not safe for residential use. Not safe for fogging. Not safe for any surfaces except hard surfaces. Not permitted to be applied to drywall, carpet, fabric or in any way enter/ contaminate AC and ducting.

Approved for spraying is not in any way the same as approved for fogging. Spraying is defined by the EPA as a course spray, from a hand sprayer, not more than 6-8 inches from the surface. Spraying is NOT fogging. Approved for fogging in a commercial facility such as school, or hospital, or food processing plant does not mean approved for fogging in a residence.

A product label that states “hard surfaces only” cannot be used on fabrics, drywall, carpets, draperies or soft materials that can absorb the product. Most disinfectant products are only suitable to spray on non-porous/hard surfaces, and are not EPA-approved for killing viruses on porous surfaces.

Fogging always enters ducting. The major cause of illness in office workers is chemical contaminants and/or microbial growth in ducting.

  • Safe for food surfaces and food? If not, it is not.
  • EPA-approved for residential/office use as a virucide? If not, it is not.
  • For hospital/commercial use only. This means not approved for home/office as a virucide.
  • Caution may cause blindness (then absolutely do not fog/mist.)

If it is not clearly stated on the EPA product label directions, killing viruses is not an approved use. Careful reading of the EPA label is required.

Fogging is almost always so light that there isn’t satisfactory coverage, and evaporation time is far too quick to meet the typically required contact time. How do they guarantee  appropriate contact time? Almost impossible to do unless the disinfectant is a gas such as ozone or chlorine dioxide.

ULV Foggers deliver product at droplet sizes ranging from 10 microns to 120 microns. The mist stays airborne to decontaminate not only surfaces but also the air and AC/ducts. But smaller size droplets may not provide sufficient contact time to kill viruses. Again … How do they guarantee appropriate contact time? Almost impossible to do unless the disinfectant is a gas such as ozone or chlorine dioxide.

They do not treat the air. One technology (ULV or Electrostatic Sprayers) is not better than the other. They serve different purposes. Understand the uses and limitations of the application technologies.

Microban®, BotaniClean®, MediClean®, Fiberlock®, Shockwave® are examples of popular commercial agents designed for disinfecting microbial contamination that leave a toxic disinfectant chemical residue. Because of this, surfaces can require post-application cleaning to remove any residue. But rarely, if ever, is this done. So, you need to ask, “Is it green, chemical-free or not?”

EPA defines “sanitizer” and “disinfectant”. The sanitizer version of a product is diluted versus the disinfectant version. The dilute version of a product may often be legally fogged or applied to non-hard surfaces. Whereas the stronger disinfectant version cannot. However in almost all cases, only the disinfectant (stronger) version is a virucide. The dilute version (sanitizer) is not. Read the product label carefully. If someone gets sick, can the service provider prove they did a proper dilution?

Some products are approved for killing viruses without pre-cleaning, but most products require pre-cleaning to be effective. Always check the fine print on the EPA label to make sure that the product is being used in manner that is deemed both safe and effective.

Are they permanent, full-time, insured employees? What is their training in disinfecting a deadly
pathogen? Do they have microbial remediation insurance?

This is impossible unless the disinfectant is a gas such as ozone or chlorine dioxide.

Be Advised

Using products contrary to EPA directions is illegal and often leads to illness resulting in liability

Make sure you are well informed before hiring a cleanup contractor or taking
this work on yourself. Understand and pre-approve both product use and application method. 

Ask for a guarantee that the entire indoor space has been disinfected including all surfaces, the air, and AC/ducting.

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