In the last 10 years or so, Pegasus Building Services of San Diego has built a division of services, called critical cleaning, to handle jobs that the average building service contractor doesn’t have the expertise to offer. From pharmaceutical manufacturing and medical device cleanrooms to medical research facilities, the success and viability of the products and research being developed by these customers in their controlled environments depends on absolute cleanliness.
“They have to have standard operating procedures in place, which entail very detailed cleaning and physical decontamination processes,” says Dana Barton, decontamination control specialist for the cleanroom controlled environment division. “Those generally entail a rotation of different products that will eliminate pathogens of any kind, any threat.”
The big pathogens customers are concerned about include C. diff, MRSA and CRE — Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria strain that’s been in the news lately. Typically, cross-contamination in these facilities occur when a person brings in a bacteria or illness by improper hand washing or gowning.
“Contamination can also occur if HEPA systems are not up to date and the filters have not been properly cleaned and air filtration isn’t working,” Barton says. “Another big one is leaks — mold is a big issue, and sometimes it’s insidious. You can have a leak in a wall and not know it for some time. To have a huge colony of mold growing in cleanroom or hospital environments, where there are immuno-compromised patients, it’s very serious.”
Many of these facilities implement environmental monitoring by sticking petri dishes to the wall, which indicate growth of spores, viruses or bacteria, or with ATP readers, which detect and identify bioburdens.
Hydrogen Peroxide Fogging
Decontamination used to mean evacuating a building and closing it for days, but thanks to powerful, fast-acting and environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide cleaners, customers quickly can be up and running again.
“I think the biggest decontamination method that has come to the forefront recently is hydrogen peroxide fogging,” says Pegasus President Jeff Becker. “It’s now the most accepted and easy-to-use method of decontamination. You roll a fogging machine in and push a button and the fog goes up and around and in the nooks and crannies and actually decontaminates the room.”
Prior to fogging, rooms still need to be cleaned by hand to rid the room of debris or bodily fluids that the fog cannot penetrate.
Customers — even non-medical facilities — have embraced the use of hydrogen peroxide, which is comparatively safer to use and inhale than other decontaminant chemicals.
“Management wants to keep their people healthy, so we are now using the hydrogen peroxide in conference rooms, in gyms, in bathrooms. It’s so easy to use — it’s a no-brainer,” Becker says. “Customers find that it’s worth it to spend a few extra dollars to ensure the health of their occupants.”
Lisa Ridgely is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee. She is the former Deputy Editor of Contracting Profits.
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POSTED ON: 5/28/2013