Since the pandemic linked to Covid 19 began, terminologies that have previously been used mainly in very restricted areas, health and food production, have now spread to all living and working environments.
Now anyone who has a business, especially if he or she runs a place open to the public or a company with offices and warehouses, has had to start familiarising his or herself with terms relating to the safety and hygiene of indoor environments and the objects they contain. Sanitise, disinfect, decontaminate, purify, clean: very often they are used interchangeably, but instead involve differences that are important to know in order to extricate oneself from mandatory standards, like good practices suggested and preventive actions that can make a difference also in terms of a competitive advantage.
What you will find in this article
Cleanse, disinfection and sanitisation of surfaces
Daily cleaning and periodic disinfection of surfaces are the actions established and requested by the ministry of health as mandatory for each company. Let’s see the difference between the two actions. Daily cleaning must relate to the surfaces most frequently touched (e.g. doors, handles, windows, glass, tables, light switches, toilets, taps, sinks, desks, chairs, passenger handles, keys, keyboards, remote controls, printers). Cleaning consists of removing dirt through detergents, with any further disinfecting effect using 0.1% of sodium hypochlorite or 70% ethanol, according to the indications of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian Health Institute). Daily cleaning (with or without disinfection) is therefore the daily action implemented by the staff of the activity itself. Disinfection, which the ministry recommends at least on reopening and then periodically (but it is not specified how often), is instead a set of actions aimed at securing spaces and surfaces from pathogens in order to guarantee people’s health. The entire disinfection of each room can be carried out by specialised companies with different methods.
Furthermore, in the event of the presence or passage of a person infected by Covid 19, disinfection must take place specifically in accordance with the provisions of notice no. 5443 of February 22nd 2020 of the Ministry of Health. Many trade associations are preparing guidelines to systematise mandatory and recommended actions, identifying good practices which, although are not binding, are useful for accompanying professionals and their teams in this new situation.
- daily cleaning of surfaces and objects with detergents + any possible disinfection with sodium hypochlorite solutions -> this should be a daily and regular activity (even several times a day according to the guidelines of the activity);
- periodic disinfection to bring the bacterial and viral load back to safety standards, specifically in the case of the presence of a person infected by Covid 19.
Decontamination and purification
Decontamination is a very specific term that has different meanings based on the field in which it is used: from the chemical field to the health and food field. In this period, according to the current emergency, it is used to indicate a procedure that allows the removal, through a decontaminating agent, of the most contaminated part of a material or structure. If decontamination is a very technical term with precise procedural indications, purification on the contrary is very non-specific: it indicates in a broad way the elimination of unwanted substances, with a particular reference to air. In the specific case of air purifiers, this means the elimination of polluting particles in the air, such as fine dusts or allergens via various types of technologies.
- Decontamination is removing, through a precise procedure, the potentially harmful contaminating elements through a decontaminating agent.
- Purification is thegeneric elimination of unwanted substances/particles from the air
How to guarantee air safety: ventilating rooms according to the ISS (Italian Health Institute) and continuous sanitisation
If, as we have seen, there are several methods for cleaning surfaces, the matter becomes much more complex as what regards air. Currently in regards to air from indoor spaces, both the ministry of health and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian Health Institute) say that constant VENTILATION of rooms is an activity related to cleaning and sanitisation. It is necessary to:
- ensure good air exchange and aeration of rooms both during and after the use of cleaning products;
- open windows and balconies overlooking roads (for ones that overlook busy roads they should open up during times when there are fewer cars);
- avoid air that is too dry;
- regularly clean recirculation air filters;
- regularly clean vents and ventilation grilles;
- choose cleaning products without fragrances and allergens, which may contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) harmful to one’s health;
- avoid using incense sticks, essential oils, diffusers and room fragrances.
“There are limited technologies for air disinfection,” says Herek Clack, associate professor of civil and environmental research engineering at the University of Michigan. “Airborne disease transmission, the processes governing it, and the development of protective measures against it, are less understood than transmission via water, food, arthropod vectors, and direct contact with infected individuals.” (Inactivation of airborne viruses using a packed-bed non-thermal plasma reactor in Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics – Michigan University)
Treating the air of closed spaces with Jonix ionisers means sanitising it, that is, maintaining a steady level of safety against pathogens for as long as the device is on. Sanitisation is an activity that is part of the purification protocol but it is an activity in itself that carries out a specific action of decomposition of pollutants both of biological nature (microorganisms) and volatile organic substances (VOC, PM etc).
Sanitising your air with Jonix does not disregard the obligation of cleaning and disinfecting rooms but it integrates the safety measures because it DECONTAMINATES the air of the spaces in which people live and work continuously, that is, even while they are present in the treated spaces . “The results tell us that non-thermal plasma treatment is very effective in making viruses in the air inactive,” said Krista Wigginton, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan.
- Prevention actions indicated by the ISS (Italian Health Institute) for air: ensure ventilation by opening windows;
- Air sanitisation via ioniser: continuously maintain the treated environments in safe conditions by breaking up and eliminating airborne organic and inorganic contaminants.
- Indicazioni ad interim per la prevenzione e gestione degli ambienti indoor in relazione alla trasmissione dell’infezione da virus SARS-CoV-2 (“Interim indications for the prevention and management of indoor environments in relation to the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection curated by the ISS Environment and Indoor Air Quality Working Group”) a cura del Gruppo di Lavoro ISS Ambiente e Qualità dell’Aria Indoor
- Inactivation of airborne viruses using a packedbed non-thermal plasma reactor di T Xia et al 2019 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys.52 255201
- Cold plasma can kill 99.9% of airborne viruses, study shows a link
- Science direct