“Our objective was to identify a product or system that could efficiently provide for the needs of clients that had specialized environments. We sought a solution that we could cross-utilize across other divisions of our parent company, Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS),” says Licker.
IRS, a disaster recovery and environmental services company formed in 1985, also provides commercial and residential mold and water damage remediation.
“Our goal was to find an efficient 6-log disinfection technology that would be suitable for use in a variety of environments. In labs, for instance, you have delicate equipment. In food service scenarios, contamination is a concern. In all cases, the chemicals must be EPA approved for disinfection applications to the required levels,” explains Licker.
Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) and Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Systems
The company first explored Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) and Chlorine Dioxide Generation (CD) Systems . Research showed that VHP was not ideal for larger spaces as it could be difficult to maintain and distribute a high enough disinfectant concentration. Aeration times also tended to be longer, extending the process. Neither of these were an issue for CD, but CD gas could lead to corrosion on some metals that would require additional cleaning.
“Both the VHP and CD systems have fantastic log reduction and fit into many client categories, but we disqualified them from the list due to the corrosive nature of the products and total cycle time,” says Licker.
Ultraviolet Radiation (UVC)
ICT next investigated Ultraviolet C Radiation (UVC). IRS’ restoration divisions had extensive experience with Ozone and Hydroxyl generators. Licker evaluated the technologies with IRS CEO and Certified Industrial Hygienist Tom Peter, to see how the mold remediation and water damage divisions could use such technology.
Licker recounts, “I was quite familiar with UVC from my experience in the water industry. UVC does have its place in the arena, but from a contractor’s view, having a maximum log reduction of nearer 3-Log with shadowing and extremely expensive bulbs to replace take it off the list of options.”
Binary Ionization Technology® (BIT™)
Initially Licker and Peter were skeptical about TOMI Environmental Solution’s “Binary Ionization Technology® (BIT™)” that only uses a 7% hydrogen peroxide solution as the agent. Then they studied the delivery mechanism and the resulting efficacy.
“The TOMI Steramist disinfection delivery system changes the chemistry of the chemical solution to achieve the disinfection levels we were looking for,” says Licker. “The BIT solution is shot through a high voltage electric arc. This rips the peroxide into concentrated Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), mainly hydroxyls along with other radicals, creating a maximum log reduction with the least amount of corrosively.”
The process makes it safer for the operator and the cycle time is much quicker as it can scrub a room out with a common negative air machine and carbon filter following the disinfection cycle. Both the surface unit – a handheld point-and-spray device and the environment systems – a remote-controlled fogging system are compact and easy to transport.
The difficulty that TOMI faced is that the EPA had never tested the BIT conversion process; they had only tested the chemical solutions of products. Independent third-party testing of the system shows 6-Log reduction of Geobacillus Stearothermophilus spore coupons, and the process is currently EPA registered as a healthcare grade disinfectant.
“Due to the simple nature and mobility of the device, the system does this at a very competitive price point when compared with the other technologies. It leaves no residual. This is fantastic for those clients with chemical sensitivities. In addition, we are experimenting with its use for rapid deodorization. This can help when trauma cleanup and restoration companies have a difficult time with conventional methods that a currently being used,” says Licker.
Be Wary of New-to- Market Disinfection Tools and Operators
The SARS-COV2 virus crisis has led to an explosion of companies offering “COVID Cleaning” services with newly acquired electrostatic spraying devices and foggers. Many chemicals being touted are not EPA approved for these applications, nor do the operators have the expertise to effectively treat infectious outbreaks.
“Even though we know that the transmission of the SARS-COV2 virus is primarily from respiratory droplets and proximity to others, we need to stay diligent and support the biohazard industry’s best practices. Proper training is essential to the safety of the customer and even the responding crew. Understanding the process is essential – from the significance of wet contact time or the importance of cleaning prior to application of a disinfectant. You can’t disinfect dirt,” says Licker.
How to Select a COVID Disinfection Contractor
The critical factors are experience and qualifications, says Licker.
“Do your homework and do not panic in the event you have a positive case. You have the right to evaluate your contractor’s chemicals and practices. Trust those who have proper insurance, have been in the disinfection business for at least 10 years and who are third-party certified through non-profit certification associations such as the American Bio Recovery Association,” he says.
Infection Control Technologies, (ICT) a division of Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS) is one of the nation’s leading Building Hygiene contractors. ICT provides Facility Hygiene Services and Emergency Decontamination for some of the nation’s most respected real estate and Risk Management Professionals, Health Care, Municipalities, Institutions, Food Safety, Transportation, and government organizations.