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Posted by on Oct 2020 in All Stories, Features, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Enhanced cleaning protocols and fogging machines

A worker wearing a mask and protective clothing uses a fogging machine to disinfect a building's common area

Since the Province first enacted emergency orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 transmission, housing providers have been operating with enhanced cleaning protocols to help protect the health and safety of tenants and staff.  

While necessary, enhanced cleaning protocols require a great deal of staff time. Public Health Ontario recommends high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, etc.) be cleaned and disinfected twice per day. Disinfectants used must have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) issued by Health Canada, indicating that it has been approved for use in Canada. The disinfectant must also appear on Health Canada’s list of disinfectants likely to be effective at eliminating the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.  

While disinfecting surfaces is crucial in enhanced cleaning protocols, it should be noted that disinfectants are effective only on clean surfaces, as disinfectants must be able to adhere to the surface in order to work properly. Cleaning a surface before disinfecting is necessary for the process to work. You may also use disinfectant wipes, which typically combine disinfectants and cleaners, though you may find them difficult to come by. When using any disinfectant, proper use of PPE is required, such as gloves, and masks and gowns, where appropriate. 

Fogging machines 

Fogging machines can be used to disperse disinfectant solutions as a mist sprayed from a nozzle attached to a tank filled with disinfectant solution. As with regular disinfectant sprays, solutions should have a DIN and be likely to be effective against COVID-19. Maintenance workers should also refer to the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) before use. 

Fogging machines should be used to complement regular cleaning schedules as they cannot wipe away the accumulation of dirt and grime that can prevent disinfectants from making contact with hard surfaces. Areas disinfected using fogging machines should be thoroughly-ventilated before allowing people back into the space. 

Some ONPHA members have found that using fogging machines has helped them to reduce the amount of staff time used to clean high-touch surfaces. The nature of the machines also allows for more efficient use of disinfectant solutions, which can reduce cleaning supply costs in the face of enhanced cleaning protocols. 

Traditional fogging machines 

Fogging machines that spray disinfectants in a vapour or mist have been in common usage in health care and related industries for some time. The devices can be mounted onto surfaces or portable, wielded by workers wearing proper PPE (masks, gloves, and protective clothing). 

‘Regular’ foggers work by dispersing the disinfectant solution throughout an entire room, or by concentrating application on specific hard surfaces, most often high-touch surfaces. The disinfectant mist or vapour has been found to neutralize microorganisms on surfaces in treated areas. Remember to use disinfectants that have been deemed likely to eliminate the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. 

Electrostatic fogging machines 

Electrostatic foggers work similarly to ‘regular’ foggers, but they use electrodes to add an electrostatic charge to the disinfectant particles as they leave the spray nozzle. Since most surfaces have a neutral charge, the charged disinfectant particles are more likely to adhere to surfaces on contact. Studies have also indicated that electrostatic fogging machines apply disinfectant solutions more efficiently, which may help to reduce costs in the long-term. 

Another benefit of electrostatic foggers is that the charged disinfectant particles adhere more easily to the back and undersides of surfaces. There is not yet any evidence that electrostatic foggers have more success in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 than traditional machines. 

For in-depth information on mitigating the risk of COVID-19 through control measures as well as enhanced cleaning protocols, check out the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health’s resource COVID-19 in indoor environments — Air and surface disinfection measures.  

Questions about fogging machines, enhanced cleaning protocols or other operational concerns? Contact us at member.support@onpha.org.  

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