Thursday, August 25, 2016

Recommended Application of Disinfectant During Flood Disasters

In the initial stages of disaster relief, Restoration Professionals can easily assume the water is contaminated (Cat. II or higher). Contaminates can come from countless sources and sometimes not from the same structure. With the sheer volume of bacteria present in these conditions, it is advisable to begin the Restoration process with an application of an EPA registered Disinfectant. Simply spraying affected areas with a light coat will be sufficient. Several studies have shown the bacteria and mould begin to grow almost immediately as water comes in contact with materials in the structure and can reach hazardous levels within the first 24-­‐48 hours. These numbers go up exponentially in disaster situations where there are so many sources of contamination. This initial spray will not only help control bacteria and mould levels to minimise cross-­‐contamination but will also help the working environment and air quality. Controlling growth and monitoring air quality is vitally important in residential structures to prevent additional contamination and future complaints from the homeowner.  

At any time during the restoration process, an additional application of Disinfectant may be necessary. This is especially true for sewage back-­‐ups and heavily contaminated water. Conditions will vary but depending on temperature and humidity of the environment, sewage in standing water becomes a toxic concoction that is continually decaying and growing microorganisms. This is the ideal environment for bacteria, viruses and mould to grow and controlling it is essential. The odour on the job site is really the best indication of this condition. If it smells foul, it is a result of odour causing bacteria reaching extremely high levels. An application of Disinfectant on affected materials will help bring down the odour and more importantly control the contamination.  
If standing water has been left for several days a bio-­‐film can form on the surface of the water, which promotes mould and bacteria growth. A mist application of Disinfectant on the surface of the water will counteract this growth until extraction can begin.  
Once any standing water is removed, proper cleaning can take place followed by a final application of disinfect. It is important to note that moisture is still present within the structure and therefore bacteria and mould levels will continue to climb so cleaning and disinfecting should be done immediately after all standing water has been removed.  
Cross-­‐contamination is also a factor especially in large disasters because the work must go on for longer periods of time, making it difficult to work within usual containment procedures. When the process is happening over multiple days the potential of cross-­‐contamination from equipment and technicians increases.  Simply wiping down or spraying disinfectant on tools and equipment regularly, will help eliminate this issue.
Close attention should be given to HVAC systems because mould spores become airborne and can easily grow in ductwork. HVAC Systems must be properly cleaned so the entire building does not become contaminated –adding to the scope and cost of the job.
The goal should always be to control microorganism growth during the Restoration process. This not only allows the job to progress more efficiently but also keeps the job contained within the affected area.
Disaster clean-up is always best left to professional Insurance Restoration Professionals that are certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC) 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Antimicrobial “Right–To-Know”

Back in the 1960s environmentalist Rachel Carson began to blow the whistle on the effect chemicals were having on the environment and human health. Manufacturers were selling toxic and harmful chemicals with no accountability. She believed people had a right-to-know when they are being exposed to chemicals. Her efforts resulted in what is known today as the “Right-To-Know” law. This movement inspired the creation of the EPA and is embodied in many Federal, State and local laws. 

It also appears throughout the IICRC S500 as a best practice for water damage restoration companies. To this end, many have customers sign a Chemical Consent Form before any antimicrobials are used to comply with their Right-to-Know and also as a way to limit the company’s legal liabilities.  The EPA regulates botanical antimicrobials and therefore the “Right-To-Know” law still applies. Restoration contractors need to inform their customers what products are being used in their home. However, with no human health warnings on the botanical product, a contractor doesn’t face the chemical liabilities they would with traditional antimicrobials. Less liability is a win / win for the restorer, the customer and the insurance company.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Save money by reducing chemicals and go green at the same time!


Going green doesn’t have to be a big hassle. In fact, it is really only accomplished in small, but deliberate steps. A great place to start is looking at how your company uses chemicals. Take some time to review the chemicals you use and why. Consider the following steps to reducing chemicals, going green and saving money.

1. Eliminate the duplicates. Have a look at your chemical shelf. How many different products do you have that essentially do the same thing? In the restoration business, all you really need are a couple cleaners and a disinfectant.

3. Be mindful of indoor air quality. With asthma rates doubling in recent years, a lot of attention has been placed on the effects of chemicals. In addition our customers are more sensitive than ever before. Chemicals become air-born when used and can not only affect the cleaning technician immediately, but also the building occupant long after your gone.  Reviewing the product’s safety information and ingredient list is key. By eliminating products that pollute the indoor air ahead of the job, can save you headaches later. Literally.


2. Review the product’s toxicity. Be mindful that chemicals can leave a residue on a surface or potentially, is washed down the drain. A quick review of the MSDS for toxicity, safety precautions and disposal requirements gives you a great snapshot of a product’s toxicity. When the product is government regulated, like in the case of a disinfectant, toxicity information (if there is any) is printed right on the product label. Also, look for environmental certifications like Ecologo, Design for the Environment (DfE), etc. because they have done a lot of this homework for you.


These few steps can really help reduce the number of chemicals you use and save you money.  Choosing more sustainable products means happier technicians, less issues for the customer and less impact on the environment.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Can A Degreaser Be Solvent-Free?

Many industrial cleaners use solvents to dissolve oil or grease. While solvents are very effective at cleaning, some also have health effects. So the chemists at Benefect set out to design a cleaning formula using only safe and natural ingredients that would be as effective as the butyl based degreasers.  

The result was a revolutionary way to formulate a cleaner. We called it
Optimized Dynamic Chemistry (ODC).

Where most cleaners have one ‘mode of action’, the ODC system works on an atomic level to break apart the grease or soot, lift it from the surface and bind to the liquid. This process not only makes for an effective cleaner, but it also means it will do most of the work for you.

The ODC system is how Benefect cleaners can use plant-based ingredients to safely outperform synthetic solvent-based products. It also makes Benefect products better for human health and the indoor air environment. In addition, there are no VOCs, petrochemicals, dyes, fragrances, phosphates, alkyl/nonyl phenols or other hazardous or unnecessary ingredients making them safe to use around children, pets and the chemically sensitive.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Benefect - PLR Expo VIP Exhibitor Showcase

New Decon 30 - Cleans and Disinfects in one easy step!

http://www.youtube.com/v/KBTRPjWbahM?version=3&autohide=1&autohide=1&feature=share&showinfo=1&autoplay=1&attribution_tag=MFmVp0IRPBD2WrJLRWXPkQ

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An Understanding of Chemical Toxicity – Part 2


An Understanding of Chemical Toxicity – Part 2
  
Government regulation has done a good job at keeping chemical manufacturers accountable to disclose acute toxicity of their products, but unfortunately, even this doesn’t go far enough. People who use chemicals as part of their profession could potentially be at risk from long-term exposure. There is no system, no label warnings or precautions required to prevent chronic exposure issues.

Certainly, it stands to reason, that if you are using a product with a Signal Word, which is known to have some immediate (acute) toxicity to it, you are taking on some risk to your health. What is the risk if you are using that same product daily for your entire career, like in the case of a janitor?  We simply don’t know…

This makes the measure of acute toxicity even more important. Choosing products that don’t have any health risk to them is amplified by the number of years you plan to use them. If you are start with products that have a health risk, then you absolutely need to apply them according to label directions (which is the federal law, by the way) to avoid long-term exposure to hazardous chemical.
As an example, many disinfectants sold in the market have the precautionary statement “do not inhale vapours”.  This is a result of that product having shown some level of toxicity when it was inhaled. If the choice is made to use that product, it is the government’s assumption that a respirator is worn to ensure the safety of everyone involved (Remember: this isn’t a suggestion, but based on scientific data!). If the contractor chooses to not wear the respirator, at least he knows exactly what risks he’s taking with his health.

What is not clear, are the long-term effect from regular exposure. How will the known acute toxicity issues be compounded if it’s used everyday? We simply don’t have a system to determine the answer. The question the contractor needs to ask is, “What will their lungs be like after 10 years of regularly spraying a disinfectant with the warning “do not inhale vapours”?

Interestingly, there is an inherent knowledge within the chemical industry that the use of chemicals comes with a degree of toxicity. Despite government regulation and policing, the general public consumes copious amounts of harmful chemical everyday, seemingly without cause or care. At least the chemical industry is up front with toxicity, unlike the tobacco industry, which was completely unregulated in the beginning. When it came to light that there was a toxic effect in using tobacco products, they tried to keep it all quite. It wasn’t until it became a huge cost on health systems that the government stepped in and tried to give some clear guidance to the consumer.

Even though the chemical industry was upfront, it has also successfully convinced the public that a chemical needs to be toxic to be effective. The use of bleach is an excellent example. Bleach has been used for decades to clean homes seemingly without any regard for the product’s very real toxicity warnings. Up until a few years ago, government organizations were recommending bleach for mold remediation around the home. Of coarse, a product like Benefect Disinfectant has proven we can kill germs without having a toxic effect on humans. The principal is much like the human immune system that fends off attacks from deadly microorganisms everyday, without causing harm to the body.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Understanding of Chemical Toxicity - Part 1


Signal Words

I travel all over North America talking about Signal Words that appear on products. My hope is to raise awareness about the level of toxicity that Restoration Contractors are exposed to on a daily basis from the chemicals they use.

Before I worked in the industry, I didn’t pay attention to warnings on product labels. If I did happen to see some safety information, I’d treat it like it was a mere suggestion from the manufacturer who was just trying to protect themselves against a lawsuit. That all changed, however, when I learned there were universal standards in place for manufacturers to follow when they sold potentially hazardous chemicals, especially those regulated under the Pesticide Act, like disinfectants.

The process starts with some standardized testing on the product to measure what acute toxic effect they might have on a human. Areas of toxicity that are measured are called Routes of Exposure and include: oral, dermal, inhalation and eye irrigation. In other words, the tests determine what happens if the product is splashed on your skin or in your eye, if the product is drunk or even if someone simply breathes it in. All of these different types of exposures are measured and the lab results are reported. From that information, requirements for personal protective equipment (goggles, gloves, skin coverings, etc.) are established along with any appropriate first aid requirements. Under regulations this information must be communicated on the product label to the user for the simple reason that otherwise, public safety is at risk.

To simplify things further and make toxicity easily identifiable, products are assigned a one-word warning that must be displayed on the very front of the product label. This is called a Signal Word.

Signal Words are broken into four different levels according to the toxic threat that product has to the user.
Acute Toxicity Graph

Danger / Poison – is used when the product has a high level of toxicity through at least one route of exposure.

Warning – is used to mean a moderate amount of toxicity through any route of exposure.

Caution – is used when the product has some toxicity through any route of exposure.

In the rare case that no signal words are used or required it means the product has been deemed to have no toxic effect through any route of exposure. 

Armed with this information I began to notice how many products I use on a daily basis that carry a Signal Word on the label. Everything from antibacterial hand soaps, to toothpaste, to chemicals I cleaned the countertops with. How could I have missed such an important key to understanding chemicals?  Nevertheless, the Signal Words were always there, now, it's the first thing I look for.

What about Signal Words on Benefect
One of the things that makes Benefect so unique in the world of Disinfectants is that, even after government review and approval, there are no signal words, no precautionary or warning statements, or even first aid instructions required on the product label. Benefect has been tested for every route of exposure and does not pose a toxic risk. It is therefore considered a Category IV Disinfectant. One of the most important things for our customers, is what Benefect doesn't have on the label that is important - no signal words!