Interview with a CIH: Tips for Dealing with COVID-19 From a Certified Industrial Hygienist (Part Three)

05/19/2020 - Blog

Cleaning technologies and third party oversight - Should I hire someone to oversee property cleaning?

You can read part one of the "Interview With a CIH: Tips for Dealing With COVID-19 From a Certified Industrial Hygienist" blog series here and part two here.

EBI Consulting’s Certified Industrial Hygienist, Peter Hosford, has been answering questions about COVID-19 safety protocols for property managers. The blog series has already touched on prevention, disinfection, and remediation. If you’re looking into cleaning contractors, you may be asking what cleaning technologies are out there and if it’s worthwhile to hire a third party to oversee the cleaning.

What other cleaning technologies are available?

If you’re looking into hiring a cleaning contractor, it is helpful to know what technologies are available. For decades scientists have known that ultraviolet (UV) light can inactivate pathogens like viruses and bacteria. The technology has been used for disinfection in hospitals and is useful for surfaces that cannot be cleaned with a chemical cleaner, like electronics.

The method, called UV Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI), is one that can be used to kill the coronavirus:

  • UV-C light is created by ionizing low pressure mercury vapor (similar to fluorescent lighting without the phosphorescent coating)
  • The predominant wavelength of this light can result in skin or eye damage if approached or examined
  • Far UV-C (a smaller, 207-222nm wavelength) must be used if people will be in the area
  • UV-A and UV-B are also germicidal but are hazardous to skin and eyes
  • UVGI works by disrupting the DNA and RNA of the virus

What about air cleaning technology?

There are a few technologies that are effective for disinfecting or filtering coronavirus through HVAC systems:

  • In-line HVAC systems can use UV-C or broad-spectrum UV light. Some things to know:
  • Film or dust on the bulb will diminish effectiveness
  • Require periodic cleaning and replacement
  • End of Lamp Life (EOL) is when bulb reaches 80% of its initial UV output.
  • Effectiveness depends on:
  • Length of time
  • Light intensity (measured at 1 meter from lamp)
  • Light wavelength
  • Presence of dust that can protect microorganisms
  • Strength of UV light
  • May need multiple lights in HVAC unit to get enough exposure time
  • Lights must be installed in long straight duct sections with lamps parallel to the air flow to maximize the exposure time
  • Full-spectrum lamps release all UV wavelengths, which produces ozone, a health hazard. UV-C lamps are coated to prevent the production of ozone
  • Standalone units and in-line HVAC units can use dry hydrogen peroxide generators:
  • This is a catalytic process that combines atmospheric humidity and oxygen to produce hydrogen peroxide
  • It produces very low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (5 to 25 ppb), which is less than a quarter of the OSHA limit of 1,000 ppb
  • HVAC filtration is another option:
  • Coronavirus is 0.12 microns in diameter
  • Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value of filters is based on particle size on a 0 – 20 scale
  • MERV 1 to 12 will only remove 20% of particles in this size range
  • MERV 13 will remove up to 75% (Using MERV-8 prefilter with MERV-13 filter on central system is recommended for offices spaces by the National Air Filtration Association)
  • MERV 14 to 16 up to 75% to 95%
  • MERV 17 to 20 up to 99.97 and higher (hospitals)

Do you recommend a third party to oversee the cleaning contractor?

There are a lot of options and many steps that should be taken along the way to ensure that cleaning procedures are done accurately and effectively. This can be overwhelming and time-intensive, so hiring a third-party environmental health and safety company to establish protocols and monitor procedures is beneficial.

A third party such as EBI Consulting can:

  • Approve cleaning method and chemicals
  • Monitor and document the cleaning process via a photo log to ensure each room is cleaned
  • Ensure the contractor uses disinfectants in a manner prescribed by the manufacturer
  • Conduct validation testing after the cleaning event
  • Provide a report summarizing the disinfection log, photo journal and validation testing that can be shared with interested parties such as tenants, landlords, etc.

What are some key points to take away from this blog series?

  1. Make your enhanced cleaning program visible
  2. For regular cleaning and disinfection, follow safety protocols:
    • Follow directions, use PPE, purchase ready-to-use products, and do not mix products
  3. Hire a professional cleaning company to conduct deep cleanings using EPA registered disinfectants and proper PPE
  4. Consider hiring an environmental health and safety company to approve the cleaning protocols, monitor the project, conduct validation testing, and provide a written report

EBI Consulting’s team of Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH), Certified Hazardous Materials Managers (CHMM), Biosafety Experts, and Environmental Health and Safety professionals are experienced in responding to infectious disease and hazardous material conditions across a variety of property types.

EBI works with the nation’s foremost hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, government agencies, and other mission-critical environments to ensure the health and safety of both staff and business operations. EBI’s EH&S professionals are available to provide custom consultations and best practices that apply to your individual property and needs. During this time of uncertainty and unclear answers, EBI has the expertise you need, from immediate response action and infection control to preparing your building to return to daily operation.

From managing infection control and verifying surface cleanliness to health and safety planning and training, EBI’s EH&S team is your partner for COVID-19 response actions.


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