Posts Tagged ‘disinfecting’

Identifying and eradicating biofilm (with HOCL)

November 12, 2018

Steps to eliminate an age-old hazard from the health care environment

June 6, 2018

John Scherberger, FAHE, CHESP

Biofilms serve as protective coatings for microbes to shield them from unfavorable environments.

Biofilms are complex colonies of microorganisms that serve as protective coatings for microbes to shield them from unfavorable environments such as heat, ultraviolet light, cold, disinfectant chemicals and antibacterial drugs used in health care.

The components of biofilm greatly heighten bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics, thus enhancing the longevity and potential harm caused by bacteria.

RELATED ARTICLE

It often appears as slime and discoloring that can be seen in sink and floor drains, buildup around leaking faucets and faucet sprayers, unused toilets and floor mop sinks, hoppers found in soiled utility rooms in hospitals and janitors’ closets in commercial buildings. But biofilm is not always easily seen because it is found in many out-of-the-way locations such as air handlers, air conditioning evaporation trays, water cooling towers, and water coolers, features and fountains.

When biofilm is seen and (most often) not seen, bacteria are present and must be treated and approached with caution and concern.

Biofilm and health

Biofilm has existed as long as bacteria have been on the planet. But it wasn’t until the early 1970s that scientists began to understand the major impact biofilm had on human health; and scientists only began to understand the complexity of biofilms in the 1980s and 1990s.

It is not just an annoyance or another nuisance to be casually addressed by environmental services (ES) or facilities departments. It is an ever-present threat to health and the environment.

RESOURCES

For instance, recent studies and investigations have shown that biofilm has been a major contributing factor in harm caused by improper or incomplete processing of medical devices and implants such as catheters, prosthetic joints and heart valves. Despite standardized processes thought to be effective at sterilizing medical instruments, biofilm is so pervasive and robust that numerous serious patient outcomes have resulted.

Failure to properly reprocess medical instruments to eradicate and remove biofilm during reprocessing of instruments like endoscopes prior to surgical procedures has resulted in infections such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) being transferred to patients. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established new procedures to ensure biofilm eradication is addressed when endoscopes are processed.

A hospital must be addressed in a universal manner because one area can have an impact upon another — even on other floors or nonintegrated departments. Too often, ES departments are not called upon to address issues found in nonclinical areas of hospitals.

For example, one area not typically addressed by the ES department in its constant pursuit of hygienic patient environments is food service facilities and locations. Biofilm is not only a constant concern as a source of food spoilage, but also food contact and preparation surface contact because, once food contact surfaces become contaminated with biofilm, it is much more difficult to eradicate the exopolysaccharides and bacterial cells of the bacteria.

Eradication and removal

Bacteria communicate and collaborate via chemical interactions for survival. To eradicate and remove bacteria and biofilm from the health care environment, a multidisciplinary and multimodal approach is essential. No one department can succeed and no one department has all the answers.

Biofilm is dangerous to immunocompromised patients. Therefore, removal and eradication must be concentrated and strategically approached.

Multidisciplinary teams must identify potential sites for targeting, which may include hot and cold water supply lines, idle faucets, drains, bathrooms, floors, moist/damp areas, soiled utility rooms, soiled laundry shafts, ice machine drains and dispensing chutes, water fountains, boiler rooms, air vents and many other areas.

Health facilities professionals who are responsible for the hospital environment must recognize that biofilm is not always seen by casual visual inspection and presents a real danger. These disciplines must also recognize that appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) always should be used when addressing the removal of biofilm as the nature/virulence of a biofilm always must be considered suspect.

Facilities professionals tasked with locating, eradicating and removing biofilm also should be trained and educated regarding why they should look for it, what to look for and how to eradicate and remove biofilm once located.

Often, those responsible for carrying out biofilm removal are just told to “do it” or “get it done” without any specific directions or knowledge. Left to one’s own inventiveness or lack thereof, results are often minimal or even disastrous.

For example, thinking that pouring bleach or a bleach solution down a drain or on a surface will terminate the issue is shortsighted. Biofilm is produced to protect bacteria from harsh environments and disinfectants such as bleach, and antibiotics fall into the definition of a harsh environment.

ES professionals also should recognize that bleach does not clean; rather it is an oxidizer and disinfectant. Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant that is as effective as bleach (if not more) in the biofilm-abolition process and is much safer for the environment, metals, staff and PPE. The odor is not noxious and thus safer for all concerned, particularly if removing biofilm from a closed and fresh-air-deprived environment.

Additionally, hospitals are subject to EPA regulations regarding discharge of residual chlorine into wastewater. If an incorrect solution is applied, the possibility exists of exceeding the maximum residual chlorine level into the waste stream.

HOCl is considered a safe alternative to bleach for its disinfecting ability and is safer for personnel to use. However, ES professionals must have a complete understanding of both bleach and HOCl reactivity. With both solutions, there is still the potential for danger if ammonia is present. Both solutions, when mixed with ammonia, are hazardous. Neither HOCl nor sodium hypochlorite should ever be introduced directly into any drain without first flushing the drain with clean water. If ammonia in any form is present, doing so may result in chloramine gas being released, which may cause respiratory distress or death.

Disruption and eradication

Biofilm in the health care environment — as opposed to being present on implants or other implements introduced into a body — must be disrupted through mechanical or physical action.

Once a multidisciplinary and multimodal team has been identified and trained, how the process is implemented is vital. The following actions may be used or adapted by ES professionals:

  • If possible, determine the type or identity of the biofilm to be removed to know the best process to implement.
  • Discuss what chemical/disinfectant is to be used and how it is to be applied.
  • The decision to manually scrub with a brush and a bucket of cleaner/disinfectant is usually one of the first to be considered and dismissed. But, just as in medicine, the guiding principle for removal and eradication of biofilm should be to use the most appropriate and efficient method without disrupting or causing harm to surrounding areas.
  • Scrubbing or high-pressure spraying is most often the choice, but must be appropriate to the environment and conditions personnel may encounter. Methods and chemicals will be dictated by accessibility, electrical considerations, the patient care environment and restricted areas such as pharmacies, intensive care units or research labs.
  • Steam is also one of the most useful multimodal interventions that can be used in combating biofilm. Two types of steam generators are normally available for health care ES: low-pressure/high temperature electric powered, usually with a self-contained steam chamber that uses manual effort in combination with mechanical action (brushes or microfiber cloths) designed for small spaces; and high-pressure/high-temperature generators that are fully electric or a combination of electric/gas units connected to water supply sources via hoses. These units rely on high-pressure water nozzles to disrupt and remove biofilm. The high temperature of both types of generators dislocates and kills the cells, and the manual or mechanical pressure physically removes the biofilm and most biofilm molecules from surfaces. Again, the environment in which the biofilm is located must be considered.
  • The physical removal of the biofilm must be followed by removing any remaining contaminated water from floor, metal or other surfaces lest any bacteria remaining be allowed to repopulate the contact surfaces.
  • The previous step should be followed by a clean-water rinse followed by an application of a properly diluted solution of a germicidal agent such as HOCl.

Proper and appropriate PPE must be used and documented. Implementation of the buddy system — especially in closed and potentially dangerous environments — must be followed.

ES professionals must use safe and effective cleaners and disinfectants for cleaning and disinfecting brushes, wipers, buckets, scrapers, mops, steam generators, wet vacuum cleaners and attachments, and clothing/footwear that may have been contaminated. Proper hand washing after completion of the assigned tasks must be followed as well.

Training required

Proper processing of clinical and aesthetic surfaces (cleaning and disinfecting with proper tools that trap and remove bacteria and unseen biofilm) is an essential step toward the goal of a healthy, hygienic patient care environment. Biofilm will never be completely eradicated from the health care environment, but every reasonable effort to prevent its presence and proliferation must be taken.

Formal training of ES and facilities staff regarding the virulence and ubiquitous nature of biofilm must be a priority.

The Association for the Healthcare Environment’s Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional, Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician and Certified Surgical Cleaning Technician programs are excellent first steps in addressing the importance of proper processes and techniques to address biofilm.

John Scherberger, FAHE, CHESP, is president and founder of Healthcare Risk Mitigation, Spartanburg, S.C. He can be contacted via email at jfscherberger@me.com.

How bleach kills germs

August 27, 2013

Bleach has been killing germs for more than 200 years but it was only since 2008 that U.S. scientists figured out how the cleaner does its dirty work.

It seems that hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach, attacks proteins in bacteria, causing them to clump up much like an egg that has been boiled, a team at the University of Michigan reported in the journal Cell on Thursday.

The discovery, which may better explain how humans fight off infections, came quite by accident.

“As so often happens in science, we did not set out to address this question,” Ursula Jakob, who led the team, said in a statement.

The researchers had been studying a bacterial protein called heat shock protein 33, which is a kind of molecular chaperon that becomes active when cells are in distress, for example from the high temperature of a fever.

In this case, the source of the distress was hypochlorous acid or hypochlorite.

Jakob’s team figured out that bleach and high temperatures have very similar effects on proteins.

When they exposed the bacteria to bleach, the heat shock protein became active in an attempt to protect other proteins in the bacteria from losing their chemical structure, forming clumps that would eventually die off.

“Many of the proteins that hypochlorite attacks are essential for bacterial growth, so inactivating those proteins likely kills the bacteria,” Marianne Ilbert, a postdoctoral fellow in Jakob’s lab, said in a statement.

The researchers said the human immune system produces hypochlorous acid in response to infection but the substance does not kill only the bacterial invaders. It kills human cells too, which may explain how tissue is destroyed in chronic inflammation.

“Hypochlorous acid is an important part of host defense,” Jakob said. “It’s not just something we use on our countertops.”

This post has been posted in 2008. Mentioned Journal article available upon request.

DOSING OF SANITIZER SOLUTIONS

March 25, 2010

Accurate dosing is a prerequisite for efficient and cost-effective sanitation. The equipment and procedures which are used to deliver sanitizer solutions vary and depend on the specific application for which they were intended and the industry being serviced.

a. FOOD PLANTS

In large food processing plants, daily clean-up necessitates sanitation of all food contact surfaces. Measured quantities of sanitizer are generally transferred from the drum into a large (500 to 1000 liters) dedicated tote, using a calibrated metering pump. The required volume of water is then added to a predetermined level to make up the end-use solution. The amount of sanitizer which the pump is capable of delivering is based on the volume displaced by each stroke of the pump and the time period that the pump is in actual operation. The volume of each stroke can be adjusted and fine tuned rendering the system capable of dosing accurate and consistent concentrations of sanitizer. More sophisticated equipment (and more expensive) use wall mounted pumps which are electronically connected to water flow meters. As water flows into the dispensing tote, it triggers the pump to operate on an intermittent basis to deliver calibrated quantities of sanitizer, with each transfer to the tote of a predetermined volume of water. This intermittent cycle of dosing provides for a more uniform mixing of sanitizer with water. To insure complete dispersion of sanitizer in solution, large storage tanks also have auxiliary pumps and the capability of recirculating the solution for several minutes.

Since effective sanitization in food processing plants is a crucial step in the over all clean up procedure, the crew leader will usually sample the diluted sanitizer solution using either a test kit or test paper. Once adjustments and verifications, if required are made, the sanitizer solution is applied under low pressure onto the food contact surfaces and the excess is allowed to freely run off. Low pressure applications are preferable since they reduce the risk of generating airborne mists which can cause dislodge bacteria to become airborne and transported over great distances. Following sanitization, a potable water rinse is not required nor is it recommended. Flat horizontal or vertical surfaces can either be air dried or allowed to remain wet. The later method is the preferable one and used more frequently. Leaving the surface wet prevents airborne bacteria which may settle on food processing equipment and tables from surviving therefore decreases the risk of contamination.At start-up of operations during the following shift, the remaining residual sanitizer can be rinsed off prior to handling food products. This is not a mandatory or regulatory requirement since sanitizers used in food processing plants also have clearance for incidental food contact at the concentrations used.

b. SUPERMARKET PROGRAM
The areas within a Supermarket deli, meat and bakery sections are relatively small and the equipment requirements for clean up and sanitation can be carried out with simple equipment. Blades, knives, saws, scrapers, and other small utensils are disassembled from the food cutting or processing equipment and placed into a three compartment sink. First, they are allowed to soak in a detergent solution which is dispensed into the sink through a wall mounted plunger type of hand pump. The components are then rinsed with water in the middle sink and sanitized by immersion into the third, sanitizer-containing compartment. Sanitizer is dispensed into the third sink compartment in a manner similar to that used to dispense detergent.
The stationary portion of the equipment as well as the cutting tables are first cleaned with a high foaming detergent then sanitized with a low level disinfectant such as a quat. The equipment used in this type of operation is usually a commercial version of a garden hose sprayer and using city water pressure as a means of delivering product to the affected surfaces. Water flowing through the hose also creates a partial vacuum within the garden sprayer resulting in sanitizer solution being drawn up and mixing with the water stream as it flows past the garden sprayer’s orifice. Commercial units designed for sanitizer application are accurately calibrated by the manufacturer to dispense a 0.2% solution, which is equivalent to 200 ppm quat (10% active) or 200 ppm available chlorine (10% sodium hypochlorite).
Small, pressurized portable tanks into which a prediluted sanitizer solution has been added also finds use in this application, especially in enclosed areas where sanitizer has to be applied to surfaces that are not readily accessible. Such a system makes use of the pressurized contents to direct a stream of sanitizer over a larger distance than would be possible with a garden sprayer using city water pressure.

c. HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES
Large hospitals and nursing homes usually dispense use-solution from stationary, central units; each one located on a separate floor. Frequently these units operate by mechanical action alone and dispense product using the principles encountered above; suction of product as a result of an internal vacuum which is created through the flow of water past an orifice. A typical installation is wall mounted with a single hose connected to the city water input line, and contains from 1 to 5 separate dedicated hoses capable of dispensing several products. Adjusting the orifice diameter at the end of each dispensing hose, results in dilutions varying from 1:256 to 1:20.
To maintain control in small hospitals and nursing homes, 1 to 2 gallon of end use solutions are prepared and then transferred into smaller, trigger sprayer type dispensers which can easily be used by the house keeping staff. Critical areas, such as operating rooms which require high level sanitation, use specialized computer assisted dosing and rinsing equipment.

d. RESTAURANTS
Aside from the routine clean up and sanitization of food contact surfaces and food preparation utensils, the bulk of the cleaning and sanitization in restaurants is in mechanical ware washing. In small restaurants, the dish washing product is usually a powder manually fed into the machine and also provides a source of available chlorine for sanitization. Sufficient product, whether or not needed for the soils encountered must be used in order to provide a residual available chlorine level of 100-200 ppm; a level which is required under most municipal health codes.
In restaurants serving a large number of meals daily, it becomes more economical to meter product into the ware washing equipment via rotary pumps which accurately dispense the quantity of chemical required. The larger ware washing units are equipped with a 3 head rotary pump dispensing unit and each pump is calibrated according to the amount of chemical dispensed per rotation of the pump and the number of rotations per minute. Once properly adjusted, detergent, rinse aid and sanitizer can be accurately dosed at the different required concentrations.

ONSITE PRODUCTION OF CLEANING AND SANITIZERS

AQUAOX Systems produce onsite cleaning and antimicrobial liquids. Through ancillary equipment, these cleaning and antimicrobial liquids are automatically delivered throughout the facility. Users of the AQUAOX System, will receive these liquids by opening designated color-coded faucets installed throughout the facility.

These onsite produced cleaners (NaOH) and sanitizers (HOCL) are capable to replace or significantly reduce the usage of  chemical cleaners and sanitizers resulting in cost-savings and less health risks for the cleaning crew.

In my next blog, I will provide a a brief list of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting applications for these onsite produced liquids.  The list also include the recommended dosage and method of usage based on proven science.

For more information, please contact aquaox@comcast.net

HOW SANITIZERS EXERT THEIR GERMICIDAL ACTIVITY

February 25, 2010

When bacterial cells are exposed to a sanitizers or disinfectant, various physical structures within the cell may sustain irreversible damage. The permanent loss of a bacterial cell’s capability to reproduce is commonly referred to microbial death. In the presence of germicides, some bacteria, may only be partially damaged. A surface which is swabbed immediately after sanitization can often provide false or negative results, indicating that effective sanitization had occurred. However, depending on the degree, partially inactivated bacteria have the capacity to “heal” or regenerate within 18 to 24 hours and become viable. Such an “apparently” clean and bacteria free surface will show the presence of high levels of bacterial contamination the following day and if left unchecked, can contaminate food products which may come into contact with the surface during the normal course of food processing.
The effectiveness of a specific germicide is a function of several factors, including the number and type of microorganisms which are present on the surface being sanitized.
Some of the factors requiring consideration are whether they are the easy to kill bacteria in their vegetative state or whether they are present on the surface as highly resistant spores. A major consideration that also needs to be addressed is whether other materials such as blood, feces or organic matter are are present within the bacterial environment. These contaminants reflecting an unclean surface, can rapidly inactivate some germicides, such as hypochlorites, rendering them ineffective for their intended use.
In general however, germicides exert their effect by either attacking a specific part of the bacterial cell, or causing damage to some of its components. Germicides can fall into three classifications, based on the their method ot bacterial attack.

a. CELL MEMBRANE DESTRUCTION
Germicides such as sodium hypochlorite of peroxyacetic acid (PAA), are strong oxidizing agents and can cause total destruction of the cells membrane, resulting in vital bacterial components leaking out into their surrounding environment. This process results in a true microbial death.

b. INHIBITION OF FOOD UPTAKE AND WASTE EXCRETION
Some germicides, such as the quaternary ammonium compounds (quats), have the capacity to attach themselves onto specific sites on the bacterial cell membrane. They do this by virtue of the fact that the quats carry a positive electrical charge in solution and are attracted to the negatively charged portions of the bacterial membrane. The end result is that quats block the uptake of nutrients into the cell and prevent the excretion of waste products which accumulate within their structure.
In effect, the cell is both starved and internally poisoned from the accumulated wastes.

c. INACTIVATION OF CRITICAL ENZYMES
Biocides, such as phenolics, which exert their activity in this manner actually enter the cell and chemically react with certain key enzymes which support either cell growth or metabolic activities which supplies the bacteria with the energy needed for growth and multiplication. If inactivation is incomplete the injured bacteria can regenerate several hours later and recontaminate the surface.

ELECTROLYZED WATER: METHOD OF ACTION

It is presumed that viral infectivity is supressed, due to the denaturing and break down of the viral protein necessary for infection, though a reaction of that protein with two types of active oxygen present in the Water:
1.Electrolyzed Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL)
2.Hydroxyl radicals (OH)
It is widely believed that the bactericidal effect of Electrolyzed Water (HOCL-solution) against various strains of bacteria is due to the combined action of hydrogen ion concentration, oxidation-reduction-potential (ORP-reactions) and dissolved chlorine (HOCL).
First, ORP-reactions at the cell membrane damage the outer and inner membrane and inactivate the microbes defense mechanism. Then HOCL can penetrate the cell and oxidize it.



Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl, which is electrically neutral) and Hypochlorite Ions (OCl, electrically negative) will form Free Available Chlorine  (FAC) when bound together. This results in disinfection. Both substances have very distinctive behavior.

The cell wall of pathogenic microorganisms is negatively charged by nature. As such, the negatively charged Hypochlorite Ion (OCL-) can only penetrate it by the neutral Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL), rather than.

HOCL itself can penetrate slime layers, cell walls and protective layers of microorganisms and effectively kills pathogens as a result. With the aid of ORP-reaction, HOCL can even easier penetrate cell membranes. The microorganisms will either die or suffer from reproductive failures.

According to Dr. Cloete, the advantages of onsite generated HOCL has been confirmed, wherein the biocidal activity of HOCL generated onsite, is 300 times more active than Sodium Hypochlorite at the same concentration of free available chlorine. Additionally, a concentration of 2% HOCL achieved same results than 0,05% Gluterhaldehyde. Similarly, it has been shown that a 5% solution of Sodium Hypochlorite (only to be used as disinfectant) has equal results than 0.03% HOCL (which can be used as disinfectant and as sporicidal agent).

Thus, Electrolyzed Water (HOCL-Solutions) have been conclusively shown to exceed chemically derived equivalents both in low dosage effectiveness as well as physico-chemical purity.

Michel van Schaik, http://www.aquaox.net

Electrolyzed water and steam vapor systems allow end users to clean without chemicals

June 15, 2009

June ,2009 by Nick Bragg, Deputy Editor

For several years, advocates in the cleaning industry have campaigned to reduce the amount of chemicals used when cleaning. And for the most part, chemical manufacturers have answered those requests by developing formulations that require smaller doses, are environmentally-friendly, and are not as harmful to cleaning personnel and building occupants as their traditional counterparts.

But some manufacturers as of late are taking it a step further and have found a way to remove the need for chemicals completely. In fact, several manufacturers have embarked upon a “chemical-free movement” by developing cleaning machines that allow today’s cleaning professionals to clean floors and other soiled surfaces with only tap water.

But with any new technology that hits the marketplace, there are those who are skeptical and question if these systems actually work. Thus, manufacturers are out to prove that their equipment, and their new method of cleaning, can compete with the more traditional machines that have maintained a strong presence in the cleaning market for many years.

Electrolyzed Water

Depending on a facility’s square footage, end users who use traditional floor machines can go through considerable amounts of water and chemical when cleaning a floor. Realizing that this process is heavy on chemical consumption, technology has been developed to eliminate the need for any chemicals by only using electrolyzed tap water, which cleans like a detergent, in automatic scrubbers.

The way it works is the tap water first passes through an electrified screen in the machine’s oxygenation chamber, creating highly oxygenated microbubbles. Next, the oxygenated water is sent through a water cell where an electric current is applied, creating a stream of blended, highly charged acidic and alkaline water that has the same attributes of a general purpose cleaner. In this activated state, the electrically charged water then breaks down dirt into small particles, removes it from the floor surface, and about 45 seconds later, the water returns to its original state and can be handled and disposed of safely.

Explaining how the machine works is quite simple. But getting end users to believe it is another story. “Normally what we like to do is do a demonstration of the machine right in their facility,” says Mike Griffin, sales manager for San-A-Care Inc. “And we have done many where we’ve cleaned side by side with their current autoscrubber and show them that this machine actually cleans better than a neutral cleaner. The floor appears cleaner and there’s no residue left behind.”

In fact, when Griffin has helped customers implement these machines into their floor care programs, he says customers often notice that the machines pick up old residue that has been left behind from prior cleaning.

“We find foam and all sorts of things in the tank that would only be evident if we were removing some old residues,” he says. “That’s how we convince people — we bring it to their facility and show them how well it works. Of course we have testimonials and support material from the manufacturer, but when it comes right down to it, if someone’s very skeptical, that’s what we need to show them that it does work.”

Besides using less water — 70 percent less than traditional cleaning methods — the machine also promotes worker productivity, a great selling point for distributors whose customers are forced to clean more with less due to tight budgets.

“Because it uses less water, cleaners have to go back to the closet fewer times to fill the machine,” says Griffin. “So a worker can get more square footage done in a shift. That’s attractive to people.”

Since no detergents are needed, distributors say the environmental benefits and worker safety also are selling points. Thus, cleaning personnel are no longer forced to mix concentrates of chemicals or pour used detergent discharge into water systems.

Although these machines may sound enticing, distributors say that their upfront price tag is considerably higher than their traditional counterparts. However, Mike Gosson, president of Parish Maintenance Supply, Syracuse, N.Y., says end users should expect a payback in the reduction of chemical and water usage alone, in approximately two years.

While chemical-free floor maintenance has slowly crept into the market, manufacturers have also begun focusing their attention on chemical-free surface cleaning. A few manufacturers in particular have recently released electrolyzed water systems that come in rechargeable hand-held sanitizing spray bottles.

With these systems, when it is time to clean, the custodial staff doesn’t have to mix any chemicals, all they have to do is go to the tap and fill the bottle with water. “So when it’s sprayed, the water acts like a cleaner that has surfactants in it,” says Stan Peter, president of Knight Marketing Corp. of New York, Maspeth, N.Y.

When used properly, these systems effectively remove 99.9 percent of bacteria from non-porous hard surfaces, including e-coli, staph, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), listeria and salmonella. But because the technology is relatively new, customers have a tough time believing that the handheld water machines’ claims are true.

“The best addition to that and the most effective addition is to use an ATP meter,” says Gosson. “That right there gets people’s attention because then they can actually see the results, scientifically.” In fact, Gosson recalls an instance where he approached a customer who really didn’t believe one of these systems worked until he did a swab test with an ATP meter on an ATM machine. An ATP meter measures the level of microbial contamination on surfaces.

When Gosson took a swab on the ATM’s glass display it registered as a 135. Anything above 30 is deemed relatively soiled, he says. “We cleaned it with the sprayer and wiped it with a microfiber wipe and it pulled it down to a one,” says Gosson. “The customer therefore became a believer.”

Distributors who offer this new technology say that the foodservice market has been using electrolyzed water to sanitize stainless steel in food preparation areas. Other customers are using the devices to sanitize commonly touched surfaces in their facilities as well as clean glass and spot clean carpet.

Electrolyzed Water – Miracle Liquid?

March 3, 2009

By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., About.com Guide to Chemistry since 2001

Tuesday March 3, 2009

Water is already pretty great stuff. You can’t live without it and you use it throughout the day. What if you could use water plus a little salt to kill germs and clean, without added chemicals? It turns out you can. All you need to do is electrolyze the water. The Los Angeles Times has a feature on the increasing popularity of electrolyzed water for cleaning laundry without detergent, disinfecting medical instruments and wounds, sanitizing food, washing dishes… you name it.

So if electrolyzed salt water is non-toxic and highly effective, you may be wondering why don’t you see it everywhere. There are a few reasons. First, the equipment used to electrolyze water isn’t cheap. Home units are presently running around $3000, though when you consider the annual cost of all the cleaners you use and how nice it would be to replace the toxic chemicals you have with green, non-toxic water, the pricetag is a lot more palatable. Second, electrolyzed water has a relatively brief shelf life. It is something you can make and use, but not the sort of product you’ll find on grocery store shelves. Finally, a lot of people think a cleaner isn’t working unless it produces suds and smells ‘clean’. Electrolyzed water doesn’t produce mounds of bubbles or smell like flowers. If you live in Japan or Russia, you probably are familiar with electrolyzed water. In the United States it is probably news to you.

Here’s how it works. Electrolyzed water is produced by applying a low-voltage electrical charge to saltwater. Sodium ions form sodium hydroxide (NaOH), a strong base that cleans much like a detergent. Chloride ions form hypochlorous acid (HClO), which is a powerful disinfectant. The potent compounds are rendered harmless either by doing their job cleaning and disinfecting or they are simply rendered inactive over time.

Yesterday I bashed the use of triclosan-containing soap and hand sanitizer and I’m always warning people of the dangers of mixing bleach and vinegar. You won’t hear me complaining about electrolyzed water.