A few months ago, someone shared an article in The Atlantic magazine that discussed the extensive amount of cleaning and disinfection happening around the world, calling it “hygiene theater.” The author’s basic gripe is that too much of the focus of our COVID-19 prevention is on disinfection when it should be on aerosols or droplets that linger in the air.
“COVID-19 has reawakened America’s spirit of misdirected anxiety, inspiring businesses and families to obsess over risk-reduction rituals that make us feel safer but don’t actually do much to reduce risk—even as more dangerous activities are still allowed. This is hygiene theater.”
Derek Thompson, The Atlantic
Over the past eight months, cleaning organizations have been unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight. Some, like (OS1) organizations, were prepared for attention and realities brought to us by the pandemic. Others were completely caught off guard. And others looked to capitalize on the opportunity. Some of it, as we discussed, was “hygiene theater.” Much of it was not.
This was followed up with an article in Wired magazine, titled “It’s Time to Talk About Covid-19 and Surfaces Again.” Similar to The Atlantic article, this author expresses concern over the fixation over surface disinfection and fomites, saying that such efforts may give people a false sense of comfort when they really should be focusing on issues such as ventilation.
Current science tells us that there’s still SOME risk to the transmission of COVID-19 through hard surfaces. But disinfection is the only element of a comprehensive cleaning program and should be only one layer to your COVID-19 prevention strategy.
Dusting, vacuuming, trash removal—these are all critical functions that cleaning departments perform that can further aid in controlling the spread of coronavirus. We don’t yet know how coronavirus might attach to a dust particulate that someone can then inhale and become infected. We don’t have science that speaks to dusting or vacuuming frequencies.
As Dr. Michael Berry once said, cleaning is the removal of unwanted matter. We need to continue cleaning in a comprehensive, systematic way to ensure the removal of all unwanted matter—including viruses such as the coronavirus and flu.
That’s not theater, that’s cleaning.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/cinema-4609877_1280.jpg8371280Ben Walkerhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngBen Walker2021-01-04 17:10:072021-01-04 17:10:09Is it really “Hygiene Theater”?
Raise your hand if you’ve seen a picture of a heavily suited worker spraying what’s assumed to be disinfectant on sidewalks and streets in the past four months.
It looks something like this:
For cleaning professionals, this image might be somewhat alarming. Mostly because it demonstrates what we already know—that the majority of people throughout the world have limited understanding of the science of cleaning.
Yet, when the general public sees images like this, they assume it’s what’s required to protect them from COVID-19.
This gap in knowledge has led to widespread use (misuse?) of chemical disinfectants. Unnecessary use of cleaning chemicals generates waste, cost and can lead to injury to both the people applying the disinfectants and the individuals in the buildings being cleaned in the wake of the current pandemic.
In short, spraying disinfectant everywhere—throughout schools, daycare centers, offices, hotels and restaurants—is a bad idea.
Let us explain.
A Health & Safety Issue
If it were just a few images circulating that misrepresent what’s truly needed to stop COVID-19 in its tracks, that’d be one thing, but the lack of education around proper disinfection practices is leading to injuries.
One recent report found that at the Adelanto Detention Facility in California, guards were “rampantly spraying [disinfectants]… every 15-30 minutes around housing units. The sprayed chemicals are coming into contact with individuals’ eyes, noses, mouths, skin, clothing, bedding, food and drinking water, on an ongoing basis.”
From headaches and nausea too painful blistering of the skin and swollen eyes, noses and throats, detainees housed in these areas experienced a variety of physical reactions from the misuse of the disinfectants.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In April, the CDC reported that calls to poison control hotlines for cases involving cleaners and disinfectants rose significantly over the previous two years.
“Asthmatics, migraine sufferers, those with allergies or immune disorders or suppressed immune systems may experience symptoms [resulting from disinfectant exposure] such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, mood swings, irritability, headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting,” said Dr. Claudia Miller, an immunologist, allergist and co-author of Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes.
While there’s cause for concern, it’s important to recognize that disinfecting is important when it’s done properly using tested application methods. In pictures such as that shown above, spraying and fogging technology is used. However, emerging research has shown that these methods may not offer the efficacy of more traditional spray and wipe methods. As such, use of these methods should be reconsidered until additional testing is conducted.
“In indoor spaces, routine application of disinfectants to environmental surfaces by spraying or fogging (also known as fumigation or misting) is not recommended for COVID-19… spraying disinfectants can result in risks to the eyes, respiratory or skin irritation and the resulting health effects. Spraying or fogging of certain chemicals, such as formaldehyde, chlorine-based agents or quaternary ammonium compounds, is not recommended due to adverse health effects on workers in facilities where these methods have been utilized.”
Similarly, the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) has also advocated against fogging and misting, in their recent recommendation, “Guidance for Decontamination of the Built Environment: Cleaning, Disinfection, Worker Protection and Post Cleaning and Remediation Assessment.”
Old Problem, Renewed Awareness
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a chemical handling issue on our hands. This post and infographic from a few years ago offers some important data around chemical accidents and injuries to workers. In pre-pandemic days, cleaning workers were experiencing an estimated 83,000 injuries from cleaning chemicals each year. Cleaning chemicals are a regular culprit in poor indoor air quality findings.
But as businesses across the country begin the process of reopening, communication and education around cleaning, cleaning science and cleaning for health is more critical than ever. Science must continue to drive our best practices, which we should regularly benchmark with other organizations and communicate with building owners and occupants. Cleaning workers not only tools to do the job, they need the education, training and personal protective equipment to use those tools effectively.
Here are five important things to remember when disinfecting any space, for COVID-19 or otherwise. Intensive disinfection efforts must be:
1) Conducted only after surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned.
2) Performed by trained staff.
3) Accompanied with the proper personal protective equipment.
4) Conducted in well-ventilated areas.
5) Coupled with other mitigation strategies, such as social distancing and regular hand washing.
If you use a systematic, engineered approach to cleaning like (OS1), there won’t be a need to spray disinfectant everywhere. And remember, effective cleaning contributes to a healthy indoor environment; it doesn’t pose additional health risks.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Pump-the-Brakes-Social.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-06-18 20:44:402020-06-20 16:49:21The Case Against Spraying Disinfectant Everywhere
There’s no shortage of information and news available related to COVID-19 and steps individuals can take to reduce its spread through actions like hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.
As businesses begin to reopen, we will be talking to the cleaning teams who have been on the frontlines throughout the early weeks of the pandemic. What challenges have they faced and how are they changing their approaches to accommodate both teams and their clients?
Our friends Nancy Albin and Guido Piccarolo from Los Angeles Habilitation House discuss how the (OS1) System prepared them for the current pandemic and the changing perception of the importance of cleaning in maintaining the health of people in a building.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Cleaning-Conversations.png10801080Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-04-30 19:58:012020-04-30 19:58:05From the Frontlines: Los Angeles Habilitation House Talks (OS1) and Cleaning for COVID-19
Right now, cleaning and disinfection is a focus for people around the world because of the coronavirus. For people in our industry, this is somewhat of a seminal moment — we’ve arrived at a place where there’s greater appreciation and understanding for the importance of the work we do. Of course, we wish it didn’t take something like a pandemic happening to get here, but we’re thrilled to see that the message is being heard.
When we get to the other side of this, there’s little question that the world of cleaning will change. Already, Singapore is implementing mandatory cleaning standards, beginning with “higher-risk premises such as childcare and eldercare facilities, schools and hawker centers [food courts and markets], according to Channel News Asia.
Combined with social distancing, cleaning is the next most effective way to control coronavirus.
The thing is, cleaning needs to be done correctly, or else it’s not effective.
In the future, we can expect government standards around this to ensure cleaning is done properly. For now, it’s left to each cleaning professional and organizations to make sure they’re following best practices.
Here’s what we know (with some great links to help explain things!):
The coronavirus spreads by hard surfaces or fomites. The most recent research found that it lasts on hard surfaces such as stainless steel for up to two-three days.
Cleaning workers form a critical line of defense in helping to stop the chain of infection, killing the virus on the surface before it has the opportunity to jump to the next host/hosts.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to protecting cleaning workers. Follow guidelines from the CDC, which includes using gloves and gowns and understanding how to don (put on), use and doff (take off) PPE.
OSHA requires training for all workers who use cleaning chemicals and disinfectants. All organizations should maintain Safety Data Sheets on ALL cleaning chemicals used in their facilities.
Not all “cleaning” kills coronavirus. It’s critical that people understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection, explained in full here.
Remember, clean first — then disinfect. A disinfectant will never work on a visibly dirty surface. Clean using a cotton or microfiber cloth—never a paper-based product.
Read the directions! Each EPA-approved disinfectant used for killing coronavirus indicates the dwell time, or the time the surface needs to remain visibly wet, in order to be effective.
Hand washing is everything. Make sure workers wash their hands before they begin cleaning and immediately after removing gloves.
We must work together. Encourage individuals throughout the facility to assist with cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, per CDC recommendations.
Communication is key. Make sure to communicate what you’re doing with stakeholders in your buildings. Share images on social media to help people at home see how hard your facility is working to keep buildings clean for their return.
We’ll get through this; effective cleaning is essential in that effort. And when we do get to the other side, we hope there will be a much broader appreciation for the critical work that cleaners, janitors, housekeepers, environmental service workers and other cleaning professionals do in protecting the health of the public.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/coronavirus-cleaning.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-03-18 17:14:362020-03-18 17:14:39Cleaning in the Age of Coronavirus
A report released earlier this week by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), a London-based independent, multi-disciplinary charity dedicated to the improvement of the public’s health and wellbeing, affirmed that the there is no such thing as being “too clean.” According to an article in the Telegraph, the report came after organizers of a prominent festival encouraged attendees to conduct “strip washes” rather than take full showers in order to reduce the environmental impact of the festival.
So, is there such a thing as being “too clean”? A lot of this goes back to the British epidemiologist David Strachan, who, in the late 1980s, developed what was called the “Hygiene Hypothesis.” His hypothesis suggested that exposure to infections during childhood would amplify defenses against allergies as the child grew older. In short, the dirtier the environment growing up, the better chance the child stood later in life to ward off allergies.
It’s easy to see why there’s some pushback—the business of “clean” is a booming industry. The most recent data available forecasts that the household cleaning products generates more than $61 billion each year. We’re continually being sold on hand sanitizers and all-in-one products that promise to “kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria.”
While some see that as more of a marketing strategy than reality, readers of this blog know that cleaning — and hygiene — are critical to controlling the spread of dirt, bacteria and infectious diseases.
Professor Sally Bloomfield, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that much confusion exists as to the difference between cleaning and hygiene—cleaning your hands after touching a dog or pet is different than cleaning out the pet’s living areas.
“Whereas cleaning means removing dirt and microbes, hygiene means cleaning in the places and times that matter—in the right way—to break the chain of infection whilst preparing food, using the toilet, etc.”
Professor Sally Bloomfield, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
So is there such a thing as “too clean?” The answer is no—the reality is quite the opposite. The absence of thorough and proper cleaning can have catastrophic results under the right conditions.
So not only is the act of cleaning important, but HOW we clean and disinfect is equally as important in helping improve health outcomes for both cleaning workers and building occupants. There are different levels of cleanliness, and it when it comes to protecting people who live, work and visit buildings, one cannot be “too clean.”
We’ll dig more into the importance of microbiology training for cleaning workers in our next post, but for now, here are the 27 of the Most Common Diseases Related to Cleaning:
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Too-Clean-Social.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2019-06-27 15:28:302019-07-17 17:49:33Is There Such a Thing as “Too Clean”?