This is part three of a three-part article about Norovirus.

Choosing the right disinfectant to kill Norovirus is only part of the solution. Norovirus can live on surfaces for up to two weeks. In additions, experiments show that Norovirus can easily travel to a number of surfaces.

The United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Laboratory developed an experiment to demonstrate how far vomit travels and how hard it is to clean all infected areas. Nicknamed “Vomiting Larry,” researchers used a mannequin head and piston pump system to recreate vomiting. They filled a container with 1 liter of fluid, which is the average amount of liquid in a stomach when vomiting. Results of the testing revealed that Norovirus particles can travel more than 10 feet in front of the infected person and 7 feet to the side. So, if a child vomits in the classroom, theoretically, a lot more surface area than just where the vomit landed could be contaminated.

For best results, custodians should focus on disinfecting high-touch areas, such as student and teacher desks, light switches, hand rails and drinking fountains. In the restroom, target toilet seats, flush handles, sink handles and partition latches.

Hicks promotes turning custodians into “hygiene specialists,” and empowering them to be able to provide measurable results.

He recommends every cleaning team be provided with hand-held meters that reveal the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules of germs, molds and fungus, as well as the proteins and food sources they thrive on. ATP technology originated in the foodservice industry, but can also be a potent tool in continuous improvement for cleaning professionals. Goals can be measured and tracked, with the results shared and celebrated.

Chemical markers for wet or dry surfaces that are invisible to the naked eye can be used to check cleaning coverage. If not wiped down, the marker will show when exposed to UV light.

Understanding the science of germs enables distributors to stay abreast of innovations, as well as opportunities to provide new and existing clients with the latest products and procedures to keep their buildings and occupants safe, healthy and productive. It also adds an important gravitas to the sanitary maintenance industry, reaffirming its relevance in relation to wellness and productivity, not just aesthetics. When distributors can speak knowledgeably, it keeps the whole industry moving forward.

Lauren Summerstone is a freelancer based in Madison, Wisconsin.