High Performance Cleaning Promotes Good Hygiene and Health, Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series on the benefits of high performance cleaning.

Today’s environment elevates the importance of the cleaning industry and its role. Whether it is bacteria, germs, viruses or fungi, taking fundamental cleaning steps yields powerful and effective results. Disease spread can be managed and infectious organisms can be isolated.

Today’s environment elevates the importance of the cleaning industry and its role. Whether it is bacteria, germs, viruses or fungi, taking fundamental cleaning steps yields powerful and effective results. Disease spread can be managed and infectious organisms can be isolated.

Direct contact-related diseases are best managed by isolation. Skin infections are spread by touching fluid from another person’s infected sores. Effective cleaning occurs when the infected person contains, destroys, removes or inhibits the bio-pathogenic organism’s life or toxic by-products.

Respiratory tract infections, characterized by coughing, sneezing and a runny nose, spread through fluid exposure in, or expelled from, another person’s saliva or mucus. Such infections often occur when an uninfected person touches these discharges and subsequently touches their mouth, eyes or nose. The organisms generally are viruses unable to survive absent a living host. Personal hygiene, especially frequent hand washing, reduces fluid exposure. Effectively cleaning surfaces contaminated by virus-active fluids also breaks the transmission chain and reduces transfer opportunities and risks.

Intestinal tract infections, such as diarrhea, spread through bacteria exposure in feces. Bacteria spread through another’s body when objects contaminated with undetectable amounts of feces are placed in the mouth. Fecal-oral transmission occurs if food or water contaminated with undetectable amounts of feces are ingested. Improperly prepared foods made from animals (meat, milk and eggs) often are the infection source for Campylobacter, E. coli O157.H7 and Salmonella. Well-designed and focused cleaning systems and programs effectively reduce—even eliminate—these diseases.

Common Infectious Diseases Found in Sensitive Environments
Health Care—Daycare—Schools & Universities
Transmission Routes

Direct Contact
Cold Sores
Head Lice


Common Cold
Bacterial Meningitis


E. Coli O157
Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease
Hepatitis A
Infectious Diarrhea


Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C
HIV Infection


Blood-Borne Pathogens
Blood infections spread when blood (and sometimes other body fluids) from an infected person invades an uninfected person’s bloodstream. This occurs when infected blood or body fluid enters through cuts or skin openings, the mucous membrane lining body cavities, such as nose and eyes, or directly into the bloodstream as with a needle.

The cleaning industry must stay abreast of the Surgeon General’s public health guidelines relating to managing blood-borne pathogens and medical wastes. As the AIDS epidemic grows more blood is infected. While uninfected blood is not a health threat since it can be washed away, it is impossible to know the status of any encountered blood. Subsequently, blood that is cleaned up, especially if fresh, must be treated like it was infected with HIV or other viruses.

The HIV virus is considered to be short-lived once outside its human host. As with most viruses, however, exact behavior is not fully understood. Prevent infection by avoiding contact with dried blood.

Barriers to pathogenic viruses can be created. The most effective way to guard against infection when cleaning is to form a protective barrier between the skin and the virus. Workers always should wear rubber gloves and splash protection. Individuals with open sores or fresh cuts should not work on clean-up projects.

Preventing a fatal infection far outweighs any known side effects associated with chlorinated compounds. Disinfect blood with a registered disinfectant. Despite a growing tendency to avoid chlorinated products, without a registered biocide that deactivates viruses, bleach is a proven alternative. Household bleach contains 5 percent sodium hypochlorite. When mixed in a ratio of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, it becomes a 0.5 percent water-based solution of sodium hypochlorite. This solution disinfects blood and kills the HIV virus when it saturates blood for at least 30 minutes.

Safeguard skin with protective gloves. Be careful not to puncture the skin or gloves while cleaning. Surround any blood spots with a ring of registered disinfectant or sodium hypochlorite. Saturate the blood with the solution. If glass or other debris mixes with blood, bathe it in the solution. Disinfectants take time to work. Saturate blood spots or blood-infected items for at least 30 minutes.

Keep the blood from splattering when applying the disinfectant. Cover with a paper towel and pour or spray the solution onto the blood through the towel.

Waste Disposal
Treat all blood-soaked debris, glass, carpet and used protective gloves as medical waste. Medical or infectious wastes are those “hazardous wastes” that cause illness or death. These wastes threaten our health and environment when improperly treated, stored, transported or disposed. Separate medical and infectious wastes from ordinary wastes at their point of origin. Place them in distinct, clearly marked containers and label with the universal biological waste hazards symbol. Dispose at a medical waste treatment facility.

Use appropriate packaging materials for the waste being managed, including puncture resistant containers for sharp objects and material that maintains its integrity during storage. Keep all containers closed once wastes are inside. Tightly cap infectious liquid containers to avoid leaking. Never compact packaged wastes before they are treated.

Store medical or infectious wastes for the minimum amount of time. Eliminate the possibility of rodents and vermin entering and becoming disease carriers. Ensure limited access to medical and infectious waste storage areas. Mark those areas with the same hazards symbol.

Hand load medical or infectious wastes when transporting. Mechanical loading devices may rupture the packaging. Disinfect carts delivering the wastes to loading areas. Only transport infectious wastes in leak-proof trucks or dumpsters.

The treatment of medical or hazardous wastes is any method, technique or process that changes its biological composition. Treatments include steam sterilization, incineration, thermal inactivation, chemical disinfection, discharge to a sanitary sewer, burial and cremation. Follow the documented standard operating procedure to properly treat each waste category. Monitor the treatment process continuously. Use biological measurements to evaluate if the waste is properly controlled and effectively treated at the site.

Always comply with state and local public health laws for properly disposing of medical or infectious wastes (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/bbp).

Avian Flu
The possibility of an Avian Flu pandemic is a growing concern. Given the virulence and potential mortality harvest of the H5N1 virus, there are grounds for emergency preparation but not public hysteria. Our knowledge regarding the Avian Flu changes constantly. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are studying the virus and updating information as needed. Presently, there are no special science-based guidelines for effective or professional cleaning beyond what health care and cleaning professionals follow during flu epidemics. This includes inoculating, isolating infected persons, wearing protective gloves and frequent hand washing, splash protection, an elevated level of personal hygiene, quick response to body-fluid spills, using registered disinfectants, intensely managing infectious waste and ventilating effectively.

Since this is a life and death issue, it would be irresponsible to give additional specialized guidance without supporting facts. The U.S. Surgeon General, the CDC and the WHO are the experts. CIRI members and cleaning professionals should monitor CDC’s website at www.pandemicflu.gov. E-mail technical questions to CIRI at [email protected] or visit www.CIRscience.org.

Michael D. Berry, Ph.D., was chairman of the Science Advisory Council for the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) in 2006. The information contained in this article was extracted from Dr. Berry’s papers and presentations at CIRI’s 2007 Cleaning Science Conference and Symposium. His entire paper and Power Point presentation, as well as those of other symposium presenters, are available at www.ciri-research.org.


Published with permission by the Cleaning Industry Research Institute © 2008.



Michael A. Berry, PhD serves on the Science Advisory Council of the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI).


Dr. Michael A. Berry retired from the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 after a 28 year career with that agency. In EPA he was a senior manager and scientist. He was the Deputy Director of National Center for Environmental Assessment at Research Triangle Park, NC for 22 years. During his EPA career, he had extensive interactions with private industry, trade associations, environmental organizations, governments, the federal courts, US Congress, universities world-wide, and institutions such as the National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Dr Berry is recognized internationally as an expert in the subject of indoor environmental quality. Between 1985 and 1994, he directed EPA's indoor air research program.

Since his retirement from EPA he has been a Research Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he taught several course and wrote numerous articles related to business and environment, built environments, and environmental science and management. He serves as a consultant to businesses and public institutions in the evaluation of environmental management strategies and policy. He directs research on the performance of products and services related to indoor environmental quality. Currently his research focus is the area of cleaning science and indoor environmental management programs for schools and universities.

Dr. Berry served as an Army Officer in Viet Nam 1967-68. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Master of Science in Management from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. He holds both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Mathematics from Gonzaga University.