Companies that have never owned or used a fogger are now claiming to disinfect your home or office for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). How accurate are their claims? How does fogging work? What chemical is being fogged? Is there a test to determine how effective the fogging was? Here are some coronavirus fogging tips to help you decide if you should fog your home or office for the coronavirus.
Fogging has been a technique used for many years. It has primarily been used for odor removal. If someone smokes a cigarette or a lingering odor is left in an unoccupied room, a person can use a thermal fogger or ULV fogger with an appropriate odor neutralizing chemical to reduce or eliminate the odor. Thermal foggers generally heat the chemical, turning it into a fog, and dispense the fog throughout the area. The particles dispensed by the fogger are generally microscopic and when they come in contact with the odor-causing molecules, they penetrate and burst the odor-causing molecules and eliminate the odor. ULV foggers disperse the chemicals at room temperature, also creating a mist or fog with microscopic molecules, bursting the odor-causing molecules in a similar fashion as the thermal foggers.
Some disinfectants can be used in foggers. However, to determine if a disinfect can be fogged, read the label in its entirety. If the label does not state that the disinfectant can be fogged, do not use that disinfectant in a fogger. Many companies, in a rush to cash in on the coronavirus cleaning market, will purchase a fogger and disinfectant and claim to be an expert. If you hire a company to fog your home and office, ask them to show you the chemical they are fogging. If there isn’t a statement on the label for fogging, pick a different company for your home or building.
Is the disinfectant being fogged approved to kill the coronavirus? If so, the label will have a claim that it is rated for “emerging viral pathogens.” Since the virus is so new, it likely hasn’t been tested by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). However, the EPA does permit some disinfectants to be used on viruses, even if they haven’t been tested in a lab setting yet. COVID-19 is an enveloped virus, meaning it has a protective membrane surrounding the virus (non-enveloped viruses do not have the protected membrane and are easier to kill). Disinfectants with the claim to kill “emerging viral pathogens” are more likely to kill enveloped viruses, such as the new strain of the coronavirus. If the label does not contain a rating for emerging viral pathogens, do not use it to disinfect COVID-19. If the label lists “Coronavirus” on it as a virus it has been proven to kill, it is very likely an older strain of the coronavirus and not the new strain.
Disinfectants have only been tested on clean surfaces. If the area to be disinfected has dirt, dust, or debris on it, you must remove the dirt and debris first. Fogging is minimally effective without pre-cleaning or deep cleaning. When the surfaces have been properly been cleaned and the disinfectant being applied is fogged, you must make sure that the dwell time is still being observed. Companies like fogging because they can fog a large area in a short time. However, if the disinfectant does not sit wet on the surface continuously for the duration of the dwell time, it will not be completely effective. Foggers, by nature, produce very small particles and those particles are more likely to dry before the dwell time, so reapplying the fog is generally necessary, and multiple applications may be required.
The CDC now claims that COVID-19 can become airborne. This is significant because the microscopic virus, when sitting on a surface, can be aerosolized when using a fogger, as the forced air from the fogger can cause the virus once again become airborne. The cleaning technician should be wearing safety goggles and an N-95 respirator or full-faced respirator when using the fogger, or they may risk infection, as the airborne virus could land in their eyes, mouth, or nose. Also, when working in areas, such as workstations that are covered in paperwork, the force of the air will likely cause the papers to be shuffled and significantly dispersed. Most cleaners will see this and stop fogging those areas, therefore not sufficiently coating the surfaces with the disinfectant needed to kill the virus.
So if a company pre-cleans and uses an EPA-registered disinfectant in a fogger, how can you test to make sure the treatment worked? Most cleaning companies are not pre- and post-testing surfaces to make sure the disinfectant is properly working. Most commercial cleaning companies do not own ATP meters (Adenosine Triphosphate). Restoration companies generally use these meters to prove the reduction in organic material after disinfecting a room or surface. ATP testing does not reveal whether or not the coronavirus is still present after the disinfecting process, but it should reveal a significant reduction in organic matter. Currently, ATP testing is one of the only viable methods of testing whether or not the disinfection process has been completed properly.
If you choose to hire a company to fog your office, make your you:
If a company cannot provide these for you, choose a different company. For coronavirus cleaning and disinfection surfaces in Columbia, SC, call Palmetto Commercial Services at (803) 479-0812, visit us online at www.palmettocommercialservices.com or email us at mike@palmettocommercialservices.