Disinfectant Divas - proceed with our earth in mind
If the last year has taught us anything, the arrival of a global pandemic could be a sign that mother nature is sending us a warning so it’s not surprising that theme of this year’s Earth Day on 22nd April is “Restore Our Earth”.
It appears we are going to have to live with this virus and, experts predict, others that we have not yet encountered, for some time to come.
Our efforts to keep schools, offices, hospitality venues, theatres, stadiums, gyms, universities, shops, in fact everywhere, free from those microscopic menaces whose crown-like appearance is now all-too-familiar, have resulted in a national cleaning obsession.
But let’s not allow the threat of the virus to turn us into overzealous cleaners and disinfectant divas causing environmental impacts that cannot be reversed.
It is true that in high traffic areas, where people are sharing airspace and common touchpoints, disinfection of airborne and surface pathogens has been shown to mitigate the spread of the virus – but in our homes we can, and probably should, take a more measured approach.
Either way, where we must disinfect, let’s make sure that we limit the possibility of any further negative impact on our precious planet by making conscious eco-friendly choices. In celebration of Earth Day on 22 April, Purazine, UK home of patented and GECA-approved MicroSafe, has put together a checklist for effective, eco-safely disinfecting that will eliminate the virus while being kind to health and the environment:
- Know when to disinfect – remember when our grandmothers used to say “you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die?” Pursuit of this virus could turn us into a society with no natural immunity; so, it’s important choose where and when to disinfect carefully.
- Use soap and water for hands – the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers is being blamed for a recent outbreak of Norovirus in some states in Australia. Experts agree that while some sanitisers were useful against Coronavirus they are less effective against gastro enteritis in children
- 99.9999% effective. What does this mean? In short, the higher the log reduction or percentage efficacy (Log6 or 99.9999%) quoted, the fewer colony forming units (often described as CFUs) of the pathogen are left alive to continue on their infectious journey or worse still, mutate to form new variants or super bugs! But it’s important to note, to be effective, it does not have to be corrosive, toxic or harmful. Natural and environmentally friendly disinfecting products can be just as, if not more, effective. Avoid those that boast 99.99% efficacy – this means they leave behind 10,000 CFUs out of a million – plenty to carry on the relentless spread.
- Contact time – this is the time a disinfectant must be left in contact with the microbe before being destroyed, as determined by laboratory testing. This means if you ‘spray and wipe’ in under the contact time you are only cleaning not disinfecting. The treated surface may look clean but may well remain contaminated. The shorter the contact time, the more active the product and the more rapidly disinfection takes place. Ideally choose a disinfectant with a contact time of under a minute or at least know what the contact time is for your preferred disinfectant so you know how long to leave it on the surface before wiping.
- Persistence - this is how long chemical residues of the product remain after their application. Long persistence often gives rise to environmental pollution, which is of course, to be avoided. The best disinfectants are those which are highly active against pathogens but do not linger in our environment. So, beware the products that claim to offer long term efficacy against the virus; the EPA does not endorse such claims and long persistence could have a negative environmental impact.
- Wipes – Despite the ongoing narrative that we must protect the Earth to avoid catastrophic consequences, mankind persists in producing non-biodegradable, non-recyclable wipes that end up in landfill or polluting our waterways and oceans with devastating effects on ecosystems and their inhabitants. Bearing in mind that wiping without allowing sufficient contact time will only clean, not disinfect, it is questionable whether such wipes actually do disinfect as effectively as needed. Where you must wipe, choose a cloth that can be washed and reused; ideally made from organic fibres. If you can’t tear yourself away from the inconvenience of using wipes there are biodegradable ones available.
- Check the label
What you want to see is:
-Kills 99.9999% germs
-Short contact time – less than a minute is ideal
-No need for special handling or disposal
-Not harmful to aquatic life
-Non-corrosive and no hazardous residues
-Free from organic solvents, and other potentially toxic chemicals
-Safe for use without special protective equipment
-Safe for use around food and drink – e.g. FDA approved
- Safety Data Sheet - If you’re still not sure, check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) which all disinfecting products must have by law. This will give you all the safety information regarding toxicity, flammability, whether it is safe for use around skin, inhalation, eyes, and the medical intervention required if breathed in or if on skin or in eyes etc. You can find the SDS on the product’s website or by contacting the company direct. That way you will know exactly what is in the product and you can avoid those that are harmful to your health and the planet
“We must be mindful that every human action has an impact on our planet and the hugely heightened use of some disinfectants in pursuit of bringing this pandemic to its knees threatens to have unintended consequences, potentially causing serious human health and environmental damage so we must choose sensibly to avoid this” explains Dr. Hugh Martin, former head of science at the Royal Agricultural University and consultant to charity The HOCl Trust.
We must all be conscious of the products we choose and their impact on the delicate ecosystems in which we live if we are to Restore Our Earth.