Fresh thinking and new measures for continued protection against COVID-19

by FM Media
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Throughout the pandemic, the ongoing review and update of infection control practices across hospitality venues and residential and commercial settings helped minimise the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Steve Kritzler outlines some new, environmentally-friendly solutions.

Two years on, we have greater understanding and intelligence about how COVID-19 and its variants transmit within the community. The three main modes of transmission are via the skin, surfaces and the air. 

As we face new variants and sub-variants of an ongoing pandemic, continued vigilance by facility managers to review and implement measures to address the risk of viruses spreading will help combat complacency and protect workers and patrons occupying indoor spaces. 

Best practice infection control for indoor environments involves taking proactive steps to address all three forms of transmission. 

Hand sanitation 

Since the start of the pandemic, Australians have been encouraged to wash their hands regularly to fight the spread of COVID-19 via skin. As time wears on and complacency sets in, hand hygiene practices may fall by the wayside. 

While hand sanitisers are often available throughout venues, sanitising paper hand towels can also be utilised, without any change to current behaviour in bathrooms, kitchen and food preparation areas for drying wet hands after washing. The paper is activated by water when drying wet hands and provides an extra layer of antibacterial protection. 

Aeris Hand Sanitising Paper provides an extra measure of protection against germs and bacteria and also reduces waste as a 100 percent biodegradable product.

Surface cleaning and disinfection 

High touch hard surfaces such as tabletops, bar stools, benches, rails, door handles, elevator buttons all require regular cleaning and disinfection. 

Most important to note is that for some disinfectants, effective disinfection of hard surfaces is a two-step process. Hard surfaces should first be cleaned, and then disinfectant can be applied to the clean surface. If a surface is dirty, pathogens may escape some disinfectants and remain in the debris and multiply. An initial clean removes most of the debris, allowing  the disinfectant to be more effective when applied. 

There are TGA products on the market which only require a single application to clean and disinfect a surface, such as Aeris Defence. Unlike other disinfectants, Aeris Defence continues to protect the surface for up to 24 hours. With all disinfectants, read the instructions for use (IFU) label on the product packaging to optimise surface disinfection. 

An alternative to spray-based products is hard surface disinfecting paper which is biodegradable to reduce waste ending up in landfill. 

Single-use disinfecting wipes is one product category that has experienced a stark rise in use since the start of the pandemic, 44 percent more people are using surface disinfectant wipes than in pre-pandemic times, a Nonwovens Industry article reports.

Unfortunately, single-use disinfecting wipes are often made from synthetic fibres and have contributed to a rise in what is now dubbed ‘pandemic pollution’. 

In a bid to tackle pandemic pollution, Aeris has developed Hard Surface disinfecting paper which is scientifically proven to kill a broad range of bacteria. Activated by water, there is no need for additional sprays, with the paper remaining strong and absorbent when wet. 

For facility managers focused on sustainable practices, 100 percent biodegradable, sustainably sourced disinfecting paper products can be the eco-friendly choice for infection control. 

Improving indoor air quality

It is widely acknowledged that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted through the air indoors. Improving air quality and ventilation in indoor settings remains a concern for many, despite solutions being readily available to mitigate the transmission risk. 

Many indoor spaces rely on air conditioning, including office buildings, retail and shopping centres, hotels and more. When we take a closer look at how a HVAC system works, we realise that as air passes through HVAC dust filters, pollutants such as dust and particles become trapped and progressively clog the filter. The build-up of pollutants on filters leads to increased backpressure and stress on the system. It could also form an environment for microbial colonisation to increase and pollute the indoor air. 

An ideal HVAC filtration solution is to have a filter treatment, one of which is the Aeris Guard Bioactive Filter Treatment, applied to existing HVAC dust filters. The filter treatment would then act as a pre-filter for HEPA filters. The filter treatment kills COVID-19 on the filter and prevents the recolonisation of the treated surface. 

By continuing to review, adapt and improve our disinfection practices we can significantly reduce the risk of bacteria and viruses spreading.

Steve Kritzler is technical director at Novapharm Research and technical director at Aeris Environmental. He has more than 50 years’ professional experience in pharmaceutical, medical, industrial chemical research and product development. He currently holds approximately 30 international patents for various technologies including world leading infection control innovations such as disinfectant technologies which are scientifically proven to kill viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, Influenza and Norovirus both on contact and also provide residual protection against these enveloped viruses for up to seven days.

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