Clearing the air about aerosol cleaning for COVID-19

By Darren Lum

With so much information out there in the public pertaining to what to do or not to do to protect against contracting the coronavirus, it’s difficult to know where to turn. Sometimes it comes down to doing what you believe is the best practice.

Having aerosol cleaning performed at Haliburton County’s community radio station is about making her volunteers and staff feel safe and secure when they are inside, said Canoe FM radio’s manager Roxanne Casey.
She said she may not fully understand the scientific nuances behind the practice that started in March, it doesn’t take away its importance for the station and its 110 volunteers, who work to operate the community hub of communication.

“All the volunteers feel pretty good about it. So if it does what it says it does and we’re keeping the volunteers … [feeling] safe coming in here, then the board said let’s do it,” she said.

She adds the benefit of this kind of weekly application that does little to disrupt the station’s operation is how it can get into areas that someone can’t physically reach. This helps to disinfect the station’s equipment, and high touch areas such as the door knobs and kitchen cabinet handles.

This is in addition to regular weekly conventional cleaning of the floors, bathroom and kitchen, and other COVID-19 protocols, such as using disposable microphone covers for each person instead of the sponge-like covers, glass partitions in the broadcast booth, a “ticket wicket” at the front door to protect volunteers and to greet visitors, and a table where anyone entering the station is required to sanitize their hands.

Thus far the station is not expecting an end to the service performed by Rick Stamp, owner of Stamp Carpet and Duct Cleaning.

Stamp who has more than 25 years of experience in Haliburton County, said he uses the disinfecting product BioCleanz, which disinfects the air and surfaces using a machine to deliver a fine mist.

“It surrounds all kinds of surfaces or anything, as opposed to just wiping them down. It’s a mist and fog that hangs around a bit, killing bacteria and viruses while it’s doing it,” he said.

He adds it lasts for 24 hours.

Among the benefits, he said, is how it doesn’t require wiping and can be used with people around, including computers and microphones.
Per the Canadian-based company website, “BioCleanz is non-corrosive, non-flammable, non-chlorinating, phosphate-free, hypo-allergenic and a true biodegradable product.”

It claims a “broad-spectrum disinfectant with a 99.9999 per cent efficacy.”
From a personal trial at his own home conducted before he started to offer the service, he said it leaves little odour compared to similar products he tried and claims it is not harmful to people or animals, having conducted the trial with his dog present.

Originally, he said, he had been using BioCleanz during duct cleaning operations to kill bacteria, but then added the service to address open spaces after the first provincial lock down on April 20. The demand for this service has doubled since then, he adds.

Besides the station, he said, he has performed the misting in private residences such as house and cottages. It’s often an add-on to duct and upholstery cleaning. Generally, aerosol cleaning for open areas isn’t new to Stamp, who said he’s performed such actions to address mould. His trust in the product is rooted in its ties to its inventor, who is a university professor, and because of how it has been used by the RCMP and businesses in British Columbia.

Many people in the Highlands, he said, aren’t even aware of the aerosol option.

“People are just not aware of it. I put it on my Facebook page and I have it in the paper. I don’t really want to push it or anything like that. I just want to offer it, that’s all,” he said.

At the health facilities in Minden and Haliburton, president and CAO Carolyn Plummer said a misting system is used. This is implemented between patients, following the discharge and prior to admitting a new patient, also at long-term care homes between residents, and is performed during the deep cleaning of transport vehicles, including surface cleaning using a disinfectant solution.

“The misting system we use, called “Nocospray,” is a vaporized hydrogen peroxide based disinfection system. It needs to be used in an enclosed space to be effective, and the space needs to remain closed for an extended period of time for the system to work. We do not use it in common spaces, as they are not enclosed and it is not possible to close them off for extended periods of time,” she wrote in an email.

This work is carried out by support staff, who deserve credit for taking on the additional task.

She said it’s important to recognize and appreciate the “critical role that our housekeeping team plays to keep our environment safe for all patients, residents, clients, visitors, and staff.”

Since the pandemic began, she adds, there has been an increase in the working hours for housekeeping staff, which has occurred around the clock.

In common spaces, there is frequent wiping down of surfaces, using the solution called Oxivor, which is a ready-to-use hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant cleaner. Plummer said both Nocospray and Oxivor have been in use at HHHS for the past several years.

Haliburton-based doctor Norm Bottum, who has been in practice for 33 years, said for home owners thorough cleaning is likely enough.

“The best cleaning is with elbow grease, wiping down surfaces with soap and water or a disinfectant will do,” he wrote in an email, referencing Up TO Date, a subscription medical online resource for doctors in the Ontario Ministry of Health. “That would include wiping down after using an aerosol spray. Surfaces that are porous or fabric such as common furniture coverings and carpeting are virtually impossible to disinfect. That is why all hospital surfaces are non porous including mattress cover, furniture and floors. Hospitals will use a disinfectant spray or fog in rooms to get to difficult to reach areas. Some aerosols are toxic and need to be read well before use for safe handling. There is no need to attempt to clean the air. Proper ventilation is adequate.”

From Health Canada “surfaces frequently touched with hands are most likely to be contaminated. These include doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, light switches, cabinet handles, faucet handles, tables, counter tops and electronics.”

It continues stating there is evidence to suggest the virus causing COVID-19 “can live on objects and surfaces from a few hours to days, depending on the type of surface.”