By Laura Craven
In his career, John Thomas has been a microbiologist, high school chemistry teacher, product marketer for leading chemical companies such as Ecolab, and is now leading the Health and Wellness initiatives for the Philip Rosenau Division of Imperial Dade.
LC: Tell me about Philip Rosenau’s experiences with No Touch Disinfection.
JT: The Philip Rosenau Company started looking at different approaches to environmental disinfection almost 10 years ago when the use of electrostatic spraying was being introduced into the cleaning industry. At that time facilities were trying to react to infection threats using the same manual cleaning and disinfection practices that had been in place for decades. We knew that there had to be a better method and electrostatic technology offered an improved method for applying disinfectants to all of the commonly touched surfaces in any given environment.
LC: What is electrostatic spraying technology?
JT: The basic concept of electrostatic spraying is to apply an electrical charge to the liquid particles being generated by the spray device. This minute charge causes the particles to be attracted to the surface being coated, allowing for a full, even coat of liquid on the surface. As the force of this attraction is greater than gravity, there is a slight wrap around effect where the particles can attach to underneath surfaces and behind obstructions.
This effect is further enhanced by the process of atomization. Since all of the particles are similarly charged, the particles are naturally repelled by one another. This causes them to more freely disperse over a surface and results in improved surface coverage.
Historically, electrostatic spraying has been used for a number of applications, such as painting and agriculture and has been proven to provide high productivity with greater product economy.
LC: It is! So how did you take this technology and create a solution for the commercial cleaning industry?
JT: Initially, we found the claims being made could not be substantiated and that EPA label instructions for the disinfectants being promoted did not say that the products could be applied in this fashion. Also, the demonstrations conducted by the equipment manufacturers did not show the proper technique to achieve the listed dwell times required for the disinfectant. It was a little like the Wild West and customers were being given a lot of incorrect or misleading information.
Fortunately, we were able to work with a limited number of equipment and disinfectant manufacturers and developed a program which combined effective and convenient spray technology, an effective and safe disinfectant, and, most importantly, proper in-service training of the cleaning staff. We now call the program No Touch Disinfection. First introduced to our customers seven years ago, we have continuously refined the program and added products and technology that give our customers the greatest range of options to meet their infection prevention requirements.
LC: How does the program work? For example, when used to disinfect a hospital room?
JT: When working with healthcare, we need to communicate with the environmental services staff and/or health professionals to make sure that we are implementing a program appropriate to the infection threats they are facing. This applies to an acute care hospital where the issue is an infection caused by an organism known as C diff or a LTC facility where the concern may be an outbreak of influenza. We can then select the appropriate disinfectant, match it to the electrostatic applicator, and conduct the in-service training needed to insure effective application.
Once the area is ready for disinfection, all touch points are evenly sprayed so as to deposit a thin film of disinfectant solution over the targeted areas and then to allowed to air dry within the specified dwell time for the product. The electrostatic effect causes the disinfectant to come into contact with all of the frequently touched surfaces, even those that are rarely, if ever, disinfected.
LC: How much faster can an area be disinfected using electrostatic spraying compared to traditional cleaning methods?
JT: It is key to understand that surfaces still need to be manually cleaned using the proscribed daily cleaning practices in place for the facility. What No Touch Disinfection can then provide is assurance that you are effectively treating all of the commonly touched surfaces in any given area, whether it be a classroom, breakroom, or resident room. After cleaning, a typical hospital room can be disinfected in under two minutes, a school classroom in under three minutes and an auditorium in under ten minutes – a time frame that could never be matched with manual spray application of the disinfectant. In the end, this is a relatively small investment that provides for a safer and healthier environment.
LC: What other types of businesses can benefit from this technology?
JT: Many institutions serving the public are interested in cleaning for health rather than merely cleaning for appearance, especially now that most understand that part of their job is to help stop the spread of infections. This includes all levels of education from early learning centers up to the largest universities. For example, we have a number of public school districts and colleges using No Touch Disinfection to control the spread of infections like Norovirus and the flu.
Likewise, large LTC and continuing care retirement communities are our customers. For offices and other public spaces, some building service contractors are offering No Touch Disinfection as an add-on option when employee absenteeism increases. The list can go on and on.
LC: Preventing the spread of illnesses in any facility is a daunting task. What are the biggest challenges facilities managers and infection control specialists face today?
JT: The challenges facing those responsible for providing a clean and healthy environment are those they have always faced – time, staff, budget, and training. This is where No Touch Disinfection, in combination with an effective facility hygiene plan, can help them get the most out of the resources that they do have. It always comes down to making sure that you are using the correct products for the task at hand, the most up-to-date tools available, and providing the proper instruction and knowledge. This is how No Touch Disinfection can make a difference.
Imperial Dade’s subject matter experts are available to consult with your organization about the latest cleaning technologies. Visit http://www.imperialdade.com for more information and a location near you.