Tag Archives: bacteria

Next stop, Queasy Tummy and Norovirus – hold on tight please

Two girls on tube
Yes, hold on tight. But don’t touch anything else – and make sure your hands are clean afterwards. You life could depend on it.

Hold on? We don’t think so.

Be super careful, more like. OCD like your life depends on it.

Which it does.

Especially if you’re not carrying disposable gloves, antibacterial gel or hand wipes.

Because after our blog of yesterday,  it seems germs on the Underground are far more of a threat than we think – as this mind-boggling post from Dr Ed demonstrates.

Too many germs, too easy to touch

Not surprising with 5 million passengers a day.

All crammed in tight, breathing the same air, hanging on to the same poles and grab handles. And all with the same dodgy hygiene habits:

Yeah, right.

Dirty hands touching dirty things, is it any wonder we’re always coming down with something?

121 different kinds of viruses and bacteria – according to research commissioned by insurance experts,  Staveley Head. 9 of them superbugs – potentially lethal killers that doctors can no longer treat with antibiotics.

Catching a bug on the tube and taking it to work. Falling ill and having to call it in. And probably passing it round to colleagues while doing so.

And all at ENORMOUS expense

It’s that kind of exposure that contributes to the £29 billion a year that sick leave costs the country.

And even worse than that, the 10 TIMES MORE it costs in unwell people coming to work anyway and toughing it out. £290 billion and counting.

£319 billion that adds up to. Enough to bankroll the NHS a whopping TWO AND A HALF TIMES over.

Or closer to home, individual organisations can get a hold on their own costs here.

Staggering, right?

Yet what do we do about it?

All that money and people bleat about cuts.

When all the time there is money for the taking – £319 billion if we play our cards right – just by ramping up our hygiene.

Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene

Like washing hands properly and often – as the folks at Northampton Hospital have been telling us for the last five years.

And like doing something to get rid of those germs. Hold everything – stop the exposure, stop the illnesses, stop all that money going down the drain.

Which means time to say, “Hold it, enough.”

Because it IS possible to eliminate germs pretty well completely. They’ll come back of course, they always do. But just like brushing our teeth, it is possible to be safe and protected every day – in the workplace, on the tube, in fact anywhere there is an enclosed space.

All it takes is regular treatment with ionised hydrogen peroxide, and the problem goes away.

ALL viruses, ALL bacteria, ALL parasites, ALL mould – end of the line, gone.

So come on people, don’t put up with it any more. Right now, the average is that we’ll all feel off-colour in some way or other every three days. Aren’t we all heartily sick of it?

Already the tube people have gone far enough to worry about air quality and do something about that. So when are they going to get a hold on the germ issue?

Let’s hope we don’t need an epidemic first.

Picture Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

One hint of health risk, and your whole business reputation nose dives

Nose dive crash
Taking chances – when the wrong germ comes along, your whole world goes for a loop

One germ is all it takes. One teeny microbe less than 0.002 microns across – and there goes your reputation.

E.coli is it?

A customer ate something that disagreed. Food poisoning headlines in the local press. All over TV and Facebook. Wisecracks on Twitter making it worse.

A reputation nightmare.

OK, so things happen. Somebody makes a mistake and the whole organisation pays for it.

Or not.

Because e.coli is a germ you can catch anywhere. Off a doorknob or a product display. Off the handle of a customer basket. From a handshake with sales staff. Out of the air. Anywhere.

Same scenario with most germs. From mild colds and tummy bugs to life-threatening illnesses.

Picked up on contact, or breathed in.

The blame game

So are you unlucky – or genuinely negligent?

Dirty hands are a cause, most of the time. They look clean but they’re not – at least not since after breakfast. And hands touch everything, including mouth and nose – the germs’ way in to reputational mayhem.

The customer’s hands, or staff’s?

With reputations on the line, it’s unwise to point fingers.

Most people don’t wash their hands from one moment to the next. Especially breezing in off the street. But you can’t accuse them, even if their hands are crawling. 0.02 microns is impossibly small to see, even if there are millions of them. So it’s you who’s accused – of insults.

On the staff side of course, you can see it coming.

Take precautions and be ready, before anything happens.

Minimise the risk

Like tighten up on staff hygiene. When hands are washed, how thoroughly, and how often. When latex gloves get used. How merchandise is cleaned and presented. Nannying detail yes, but your reputation depends on it.

Likewise, how your whole place is cleaned.

Not just a lick and a promise, but properly sterilised. If there’s no germs anywhere, you know the e.coli must be the customer’s.

And properly doesn’t mean bleach. The smell alone will drive your reputation away all by itself.

Besides, how’s bleach going to reach all the places that germs are more likely to lurk? In dark corners, away from the usually scrubbed counters and work surfaces? Or in the air itself?

No, no – to get rid of germs, you’ve got to get serious. Just like your reputation is serious  – and e.coli makes bad PR.

So it’s sterilise or nothing – again, your reputation depends on it.

No germs on anything anyone might touch – staff or customers. Including all the things nobody ever thinks about but uses all the time. Like self-service touchscreens and lift call buttons.

Bring on the tiger

Time to think ionised hydrogen peroxide.

And a nifty all-automatic machine – the Hypersteriliser.

It’s loaded with a mild 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide – the same germ-killer stuff you can get in Boots as antiseptic. And the same stuff our own bodies naturally produce to fight infections from cuts or scratches.

Ah, but press the button – and you waken the sleeping tiger.

IONISED, see. Which mists the hydrogen peroxide into a dry superfine spray – and transforms it from a gas vapour into a plasma.

Yup, you’ve got yourself a tiger. Because now that mild 6% solution releases a slew of other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet – every one, a germ predator.

Plus the ionising forces the tiger out of its lair and actively on the hunt. Forced apart electrostatically to disperse aggressively in all directions. Fiercely pouncing oppositely-charged bacteria and viruses -and clawing them to shreds by oxidising them.

Not kind. But think of it this way. It gives germs the same deadly treatment they give you. Or more appropriately, your reputation.

Give it 40 minutes or so, depending on room size – and the whole place is sterile. No germs anywhere. In the air, on any surface, in any tight inaccessible places, or in any cracks, crevices and remote corners.

OK, so with the whole place germ-free, any e.coli floating around has got to be the customer’s.

But you know how it goes, you get the blame anyway. Benefit of the doubt and all that – the customer is always right.

Roar of approval

Uh huh, so your final play is to protect the customer from herself.

Before she has a chance to touch anything, offer her antibacterial wipes or gel – free with your compliments.

Well it’s your reputation, so what’s she going to think – free hand wipes AND the whole place sterilised for HER health and security?

Wow! Worth paying a bit extra to shop there, don’t you think?

And how’s it going to look for you when she climbs on Instagram and Snapchat to her friends?

Like we say, it’s your reputation. And with the tiger on your side, you’re playing for keeps.

Picture Copyright: digidreamgrafix / 123RF Stock Photo

Luxury right now – but one day soon, ALL hotel rooms will be germ-free

Relaxed exec
Luxury, but you’ve earned it – the right to be germ-free for a good night’s sleep

Imagine. Open the door – and your room not only welcomes you, it’s completely germ-free.

You’re flaked out, ready to crash – so you know your system is weakened.

But no, you’re not going to come down with anything – your room is safe enough to relax properly AND let your guard down.

Forget the paracetamol for a start. Your body doesn’t need it, there’s no need to take precautions. If the symptoms start showing, you’ve picked something up BEFORE walking in here. Because right now, you should be absolutely safe.

Germ-free – a new level of luxury

So. No viruses, no bacteria – as you can tell from the smells.

That’s right, there aren’t any. Except maybe from the flowers to welcome you. The chocolate on your pillow. And the exotic soap, still under cellophane in the bathroom. Nothing else though – like the tell-tale pong of bacteria at work.

Luxury? Or the way things should be?

Hotel rooms are cleaned every day, so they SHOULD be germ-free. But as any experienced traveller will tell you, they very seldom are.

Inevitable really.

All the right things are done – the vacuuming, the wipe-downs, the clean towels and linen. With disinfectant and air freshener too.

But hotel rooms are high use and high turnover. There’s no time and it isn’t practical to do a deep clean for every guest. Not even 5-star VIPs.

Ouch! Bleach

Bleach does the job, but needs exposure time to be effective. At least 30 minutes at fair concentration – except it leaves a stink and makes your head woozy.

And whoever’s going to use liquid bleach on light switches, bedside phone  or TV remotes? The things will short circuit and never work again. That’s IF cleaning staff don’t electrocute themselves in the process.

Or how about the other high touch areas?

Door handles, the dressing table, bedside units, bathroom vanity slab, or the floor in the shower cubicle?

To do all those in the turnaround time between room check-out and the next guest arriving just isn’t possible.

Or getting to any of the other fixtures and fittings that SHOULD receive attention. The bedspread, the curtains and the carpet, for instance. Nine times out of ten, they get left till the end of the month.

Pretty well all germs are airborne and contaminate new areas that way. The physical dust might be vacuumed out of the carpet pile. But there’s the collective germ-load of every single guest since the last steam clean still lurking there. Exactly why experienced guests never take their shoes off.

And anyhow – how do you clean the air itself, spray bleach around? Half the fittings will shrivel up or corrode – and your head will feel like a brain transplant without anaesthetic.

Twenty-First Century easy

Old technology. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember life before smart phones? Unthinkably primitive now, how did we ever survive?

Same thing with getting rid of germs. The new push-button technology does the job in a jiffy. Well, in the 20 minute jiffy it takes to spread out through the air, find all the germs, and send them to oblivion.

Get used to seeing a new house-keeping addition in the corridor as you head for late breakfast . After a fabulous night’s sleep with no travel gremlins – not even air conditioning sniffles.

There’s the linen trolley and the cleaning cart and the vacuum cleaner. And a nifty mobile console alongside about the size of a small wheelie-bin – the Hypersteriliser.

There’s your luxury revolution right there – the high-tech way to make hotel rooms germ-free.

Once all the cleaning is finished, that thing mists up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide and takes out all the germs. ALL of them.

Tiger, tiger

Bit of a sleeping tiger, that whole procedure.

Because by itself the hydrogen peroxide is a pussycat – the same eco-friendly 6% solution you can buy in the chemist. As an antiseptic or for bleaching your hair. The same stuff our own bodies produce for fighting infections.

Ionising catapults it into a whole new dimension. Sprayed out in a dry superfine mist, it transforms from gas vapour into a plasma. A complete change of state that releases  even more germicidal high performers – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

That pussycat is now a giant-size and riled-up, super efficient predator – all claws and fangs.

Ionising also triggers its hunting instincts – aggressively dispersing away from itself in all directions, driven by electrostatic charge. That same charge seeks out and pounces on oppositely-charged viruses and bacteria. Oxygen atoms claw them to pieces.

Game over.

99.9999% safe

And that’s ALL germs in the air, on ALL surfaces, behind ALL objects, underneath ALL objects – and burying deep into ALL cracks and crevices – ALL hunted down and annihilated. 99.9999% of ALL germs gone – to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

Total effort involved, pressing a button. Time taken, 20 minutes or so, depending on room size. And all that’s left, oxygen and water – in such small quantities it evaporates immediately.

Oh, and a microscopically thin layer of colloidal silver on everything. A further and lasting barrier protection against germs. So that room is sterile immediately, or stays that way as long as it’s closed – for up to a week or more.

Sterile room – yes, luxury.

But fast becoming a necessity in this jet-age world of ours – where virulent infections from the other side of the world are suddenly on our doorstep, courtesy of direct flight Boeing 787 or Airbus A380.

So it’s not just colds and flu that hotels are fighting against. It’s the whole alphabet soup of MERS, SARS, HIV/AIDS, MRSA and all the other nasties. So easily caught by touching a cushion or a room service menu. So easily neutralised by daily letting the big cat loose.

No viruses, no bacteria, no parasites, no fungi – that tiger really earns his stripes.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Why the next hotel luxury is fast becoming a must-have

5-star Halo
Luxury at the touch of a button. No viruses, no bacteria – 99.9999% germ-free

It’s not really a luxury, these days it’s a necessity.

A stylish hotel room that’s clean, welcoming – and STERILISED.

Completely germ-free the moment the door is opened.

No viruses, no bacteria, nothing.

And of course no dust, no odours, no disturbing noises.

Surrounded by germs

A haven from the world outside – immaculate, secure and safe.

Exactly as it should be for discerning guests.

Away from teeming germs. In the air, on every surface, on everything thing people touch.

Hardly surprising really, because microbes are everywhere – bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi.

We’re even half-bacteria ourselves. Our microbiome is home to over 12 trillion of them. In our gut and throughout our bodies. Beneficial bacteria that enable digestion, create proteins and even regulate our immune systems.

Plus each of us tows around with us our own invisible microbe cloud. Good and bad bacteria, dead skin cells and body detritus – a biological signature more distinctive and individual than a fingerprint or a retina scan.

A most insistent signature too.

It takes only an hour or two for our microbe cloud to completely take over a room. Displacing all other microbes, making the place completely ours.

It not only possesses the room, it lingers afterwards. As some police CSI specialists will be able to take advantage of in the very near future.

Bio-readings will not only tell them WHO was in the room. They’ll know, WHEN they were there.  WHAT mood they were in. Even what they had for their last meal.

Of course, none of which has any appeal to the discerning hotel guest.

The previous room occupant might have had a cold or flu. Or worse have been carrying norovirus at the incubation stage – not suffering yet, but about to. And might have touched things like the TV remote or air conditioning control – easy ways for the new guest to pick up germs on contact.

The germ-free hotel room

But not any more.

Because THIS particular hotel room has been treated by a Hypersteriliser.

All germs have been eliminated as part of regular house-keeping and room preparation.

The usual care and luxury touches with vacuuming, cleaning, tidying, clean linen and polishing first. Then a special dry mist treatment with ionised hydrogen peroxide – a powerful oxidising antimicrobial that reaches everywhere.

And we mean everywhere. An electrostatic charge forces it actively through the air, hard up against all surfaces, and deep into all nooks and crannies. In as little as twenty minutes, there is nowhere that the mist doesn’t reach.

Bacteria and viruses don’t stand a chance. That same electrostatic charge reaches out and grabs them like a magnet – holding them in a death clamp. Oxygen atoms rip them apart, they are eliminated. The mist then reverts to oxygen and water, which evaporates.

A 6-log Sterility Assurance Level it’s called. 99.9999% of all germs gone – down to just 1 microbe per million.

Necessary luxury

So that whatever the new guest breathes or touches is completely safe. Reassuring to VIPs vulnerable from intensive schedules or travel exhaustion. Luxury, yes – but to anyone busy with commitments to meet, absolutely essential.

Many celebrities or public figures cannot afford to let germs impair their performance or slow them down. Cancelling engagements to unexpected illness can cost millions.

But not to guests in STERILISED luxury. Away from the world in peace and quiet.

AND safe from infection.

Safer than in their own homes – unless they have a Hypersteriliser there too.

Luxury must-have, yes.

But to those at the very pinnacle, when only 100% is good enough, a total necessity.

Picture Copyright: cherezoff / 123RF Stock Photo

How purified office air could still be full of germs

Unwell at work
You’re only as safe as the air you breathe – and everybody else breathes it too

You should be OK with purified air. But every system has its drawbacks.

Which means you may not be as safe as you think you are – even with the latest triple-whammy set up.

One reason is how most purifying systems work.

Passive instead of active.

A great big fan system sits in one place, sucking air through it. Filters next to the fan sift out contaminants – and the air goes round again, circulating for reuse. Purified.

HEPA efficiency

That’s usually pretty good with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) systems, which filter out particles down to a very small 0.03 microns.  Fine for fumes and exhaust sucked from outside, as well as smoke, dust, emissions from from building materials, furnishings, cleaning products, electronic equipment, toiletries, people and pets.

Not so fine for harmful viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi – which are often very much smaller. A typical cough-sniffle cold bug like rhinovirus might be as small as 0.002 microns. Too small to be filtered out, too light for gravity to affect it. So it rides the air, round and round – waiting for us to breathe it in. Not purified.

An efficient alternative is to use ultraviolet light. A fan draws air in through a long exposure tube – the “killing zone”. Ultraviolet attacks the microorganism’s DNA, rendering it unable to reproduce. If contact is long enough, it becomes neutral and effectively dead.

But how long is long enough? To make sure of a kill, the air has to move fairly slowly. It can’t recirculate fast like the HEPA filter – unless it has a whacking great bulb. And if the bulb is too big, it produces too much ozone – an effective antimicrobial, yes, but hazardous to humans.

Those are the passive systems. Air goes to the germ-killer, not the other way around. It works only where there’s airflow. In quiet corners and along walls, the air is still and unmoving. Particulates and microbes are there for keeps. Not purified.

Active – go get ’em

More effective is to be active – to take the germ-killer to the air. To force it out positively, driving it to disperse in all directions pro-actively. To invade the air totally.

The vehicle is a dry ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide mist, which kills germs by oxidising them. The mist is ionised to become a plasma, forcing itself away in all directions, penetrating everywhere.

The actual solution is mild, only 6%. But ionising transforms it, producing further antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. From eco-friendly 6%, to turbo-charged 600%.

Electrostatic attraction causes oxygen atoms to grab oppositely charged viruses and bacteria. They are physically ripped apart – and the mist safely reverts to oxygen and water, which evaporates. Sterilised, purified, safe and secure.

OK, there is a downside.

Hydrogen peroxide won’t take out non-biological contaminants with anything like the same efficiency. Pollutants like volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide, particulate matter and fibres are better removed by the regular HEPA filters.

But work the two together…

Picture Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo

Good evening – first, please wash your hands – we don’t want to be sued for food poisoning

Restaurant Hosts
We wash our hands – with everything we do. Our business depends on it – so you don’t get food poisoning. You want to eat here safely, it’s your turn

Welcome and enjoy yourselves. But no-one suffers food poisoning at our expense.

Our reputation is at stake – and why should we pay for your lapse of hygiene?

Yes, yours.

You see, we have a business to run and a licence to protect. We can’t afford lapses.

So every one of us here makes a point of washing their hands before they do anything.  Or if they’re stuck at their post and can’t get to a wash basin, to use an antibacterial gel.

We think you owe us the same courtesy. We’re thinking of your safety and well-being, you should respect ours.

Because it’s not just washing hands.

We know from long experience that every aspect of hygiene matters.

Sure, it’s good presentation to have everything neat and clean and tidy. Spotless surroundings. Fresh table linen. Shining cutlery. Sparkling glasses. Not just for appearances, but for your health.

Germ-free or nothing

Everything you will use tonight is not only clean but germ-free. To be used once only and then cleaned again. No germs anywhere.

Our whole place is like that.

No dust, no dirt. Cleaned and polished several times a day. Scrubbed, vacuumed and disinfected. Our livelihood depends on it.

So you can imagine how meticulous we are in the kitchen. How careful we are that food prep is only in super-hygienic conditions. Created by staff who know their whole career is reliant on clean hands. As significant to them as to doctors and nurses. A rigid routine we never break.

We’re just as scrupulous with actual food too. Again, our reputation depends on it.

Yes, it’s fresh and carefully checked. Trimmed, sliced and chopped with knives dedicated to each food type to avoid cross-contamination. On surfaces thoroughly cleaned before and after preparation.

Then roasted, baked, boiled, steamed, fried, grilled or sautéed by clever hands. Hands always washed and washed again through every step. Not only for your satisfaction, but to keep you safe. So you’re never exposed to the slightest imperfection – at least not if we can help it.

You owe it to yourself

So how about you?

Yes, you’re welcome and we want you to enjoy yourself.

But food poisoning is a serious thing and we can’t afford to take chances. Which is why we’re so insistent on washing your hands. We need to protect you from yourself.

Because it’s hands that cause food poisoning, nine times out of ten. Hands touch everything every moment of the day. They feel, hold, manipulate, jab, brush and grab continuously. Collecting germs all the time – from every surface, in every location, even the air itself.

Ah, but how often do you wash your hands?

We can’t see germs, so we never think we’re contaminated. But it’s inevitable that we are, germs are everywhere – bacteria, viruses, fungi. We’re half-bacteria ourselves!

OK, so when did you last wash your hands?

Before you  left home?

And did you drive straight here? Both hands on the wheel, carefully below the speed limit, watching out for pedestrians?

Ah, but cast your mind back. That booze-cruise dash to France last weekend. Loaded to the roof with your favourite Cab Sauv and a last minute grande portion de frites at McDonalds before the ferry.

Have you cleaned the steering wheel since then? Given it anything more than a quick wipe?

And you drove here with clean hands, reckoning you’re safe?

Uh huh. Any idea how long gut-wrenching bacteria like MRSA or e.coli can survive on hard surfaces?

Or how about norovirus – you know, the cruise ship virus? That can last for months.  Hundreds of people ill and massive £10,000 pay-outs?  No thank you.

No visible dirt – fake clean

So you’re actually going to sit there, waiting for the menu, while we ask politely that you wash your hands first?

Excuse us, but we know the facts:

So no, you can’t have the menu – yet.

Other customers need to handle it after you – and we can’t take that risk. You might have e.coli, you might not. But we’re not getting nailed by some hotshot solicitors because some of our clientele ate here and felt queasy.

Like the rest of the place, our washrooms are kept clean and meticulously tidy. But if you want to stay at table because of your guests, here are some hand wipes for all of you with our compliments.

Please use them, then we’ll bring you the menus and a whole evening of enjoyment. And you won’t get food poisoning because we know our hygiene is good and our precautions work.

But just so we’re clear up front. If you don’t use these wipes and you come down with some tummy bug food poisoning, we’re not taking the rap.

Picture Copyright: IStockphoto/Doug Berry

Now deadly superbugs resist disinfectants too

Biohazard team
Disinfect all you like – once germs resist, nowhere is safe

It’s our own fault really. Teaching bugs how to resist. Believe it or not, by having a go with disinfectants too often.

Too often, or too carelessly?

Because bacteria are survivors, see? They’ve been on this planet longer than any other living thing. So they can cope with extremes. Acid environments, polluted with metals.  Even boiling water.

Which makes resisting disinfectants a bit of a doddle.

Slap-happy routine

Especially when disinfectants come at them every day.  Routine same-old, everybody’s used to it – plenty of slap-happy mistakes.

Not properly applied, so bits get missed. Not strong enough, so not all are killed. Not exposed for long enough, so even more escape.  And always repetitive, so they know what’s coming.

More of the same, get ready. And not all of them are dead from last time.

Not dead, and not driven out –  every time they get stronger. Better able to resist. More used to defending themselves.

Plus, if it gets too hard to resist, they get clever.

Like going up against bleach – the one substance bacteria has a problem with, because it oxidises them.

But not a problem if the bleach is too weak, or not left on for long enough.

Billions of years of being clever

A couple of capfuls in a bucket of water makes a solution that’s not nearly strong enough. And the usual wipe-on, wipe-off won’t leave it there nearly long enough – bleach takes 30 minutes exposure time to be sure of a kill.

Plus, bacteria can live with the smell, even if we humans can’t. The rest is just outlasting the stuff. Ensuring there are enough bacteria around to keep going.

Not a problem when you can regenerate yourself quickly. E. coli for instance – including its deadly O157 variant – can replicate itself every 20 minutes.  If a batch get wiped out, they’re easily back at strength in just hours.

The other trick is to hide behind biofilms – hard-to-remove slime that protects bacteria from contact with the bleach.

Or to unfold a heat-shock protein, Hsp33, which binds and protects other proteins from harm, helping the bacteria to survive.

All of which means, if you’re going to disinfect something, do it properly.

Life’s a bleach – or not

Use bleach, slap it on thick and leave it there for 30 minutes or more. Not always that simple as bleach attacks metals, particularly stainless steel. Your nose will tell you it’s pretty corrosive to other substances too.

Otherwise, you’re teaching the bacteria to resist. Giving it an immunity to further disinfectants used against it in the future. AND teaching it antibiotic resistance as well.

Or there is an easier solution – which no bacteria can resist, no matter what. No viruses or fungi either.

Simply mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

Electrostatically charged, the stuff reaches everywhere. Including the air, which never normally gets touched, even though it’s 80% of the average room space. And forced hard up against all those hard-to-reach places your sponge or cleaning cloth can’t get at.

Like bleach, the action is by oxidising. But exposure time is 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.

Because boosted by ionising into a plasma mist, hydrogen peroxide releases a slew of other other antimicrobials. Hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Oxygen atoms reach out and grab at germs, ripping their cell structure apart.

40 minutes later, and it’s done and dusted. Disinfected AND sterilised.

The mist reverts to eco-friendly oxygen and water, which evaporates – and the whole place is germ-free. 99.9999% gone – no bacteria, no viruses, no fungi – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

No slopping around on top of the necessary rubbing and scrubbing. No noxious fumes either.

Hard to resist?

You bet.

Picture Copyright: kadmy / 123RF Stock Photo

How to get a quick-fix for sick building syndrome

Architect running
To do the job in a hurry, the best quick-fix is ionised hydrogen peroxide

This quick-fix works – but like all rushed emergencies, not always.

You see, it’s the people who are sick, not the building.

The building just is.

And not much is going to change unless the building does.

So this is a quick-fix to overlay the real problem – a temporary stop-gap.

But it’s a quick-fix that can work over and over again, every time from scratch.

Don’t expect miracles.

Though getting rid of the problem in less than a day might count as miracle.

So you can get your hopes up.

Location, location, location

OK, obviously there’s not much can be done about location.

If the walls are shuddering every few minutes from British Airways jumbos letting down into Heathrow, it’s a question of like it or lump it.

Likewise, if the building is sitting across from an electricity generating station and low frequency vibrations give people headaches, make sure there’s plenty of paracetamol.

But if you look at the symptoms people come down with, the basic problems are ventilation, poor hygiene and mould – or some other pathogenic contamination.

Uh huh. The root cause is structural – so the best fix is to tear it all down and start again.

Yeah, right. Who’s got that kind of money? And where does everyone go while they build a new one?

Medicine for buildings

So our quick-fix is to COMPENSATE for the building’s usual faults. To make everybody feel better for a few days or maybe a week. And keep doing it over and over, for as long as it takes.

That’s because, like the medicines we take for ourselves, the effect wears off over time. It needs a re-dose to stay effective.

And dose is right – like a medicine for the building.

Not an antibiotic, but an across-the-board antimicrobial that takes out all germs. Because it’s germs that cause most of the usually flu-like symptoms – headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, poor concentration, shortness of breath, irritated eyes and throat, runny noses and skin rashes.

OK, it’s a quick-fix, right?

Start the clock.

It needs to be instant. Get in, do the job, and get out again – preferably in minutes.

Which it certainly does – using hydrogen peroxide, the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight germs inside us.

Just wheel in the mobile unit, hit the button – and a superfine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads through the place, force-driven by electrostatic charge. It fills the air, presses hard up against all surfaces, presses deep into all cracks and crevices, everywhere.

Germs to oblivion

Like millions of tiny magnets, charged particles reach out and grab at opposite-charged germs, oxidising them to oblivion. Their cell structure is ripped apart by oxygen atoms – with no survivors, provided exposure time is long enough.

And how long is that? Around forty minutes for the average room. Long enough for the hydrogen peroxide to spread, clamp on to germs, do their stuff and revert back to oxygen and water, which promptly evaporates.

Result? ALL germs are gone. All viruses, all bacteria, all fungi – to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level, 99.9999% of all pathogens destroyed.

How can you tell?

Well germs are so small, you can only work on clues. Usually there’s nothing to see.

The proof

First off, there should be no smells. Organic smells that is – if it’s chemical, cleaners or diesel fuel, there’ll still be residue.

But there won’t be any pongs of something off – the stinking signature of bacteria at work, causing rot and decay. And cause of making us ill – colds, flu, runny tummy, whatever. Billions of them gone – from gastroenteritis to typhoid and cholera.

Same thing with mould, cause of asthma and all kinds of breathing problems. As you can see for yourself wherever it might be – around leaking pipes or down damp walls. Those dark black marks are now grey. The living fungi are gone, and you can sweep away their remains with a brush.

For the rest, ask the people who work there. It should feel easier, more pleasant, with fresher air.

A quick-fix, like we say. Because none of the building’s problems are solved. They’ve just gone away short-term. Disappeared with the germs that caused them.

Stop the clock.

Easy, huh? Happier, healthier people – and a lot cheaper than building a new building.

Picture Copyright: Elnur / 123RF Stock Photo

Forget computer viruses, your real unwell-at-work cost is already a ransom

Germs in office
Virus alert – better call a doctor because IT can’t help

Computer viruses you can fix. You can even turn the things off and work on paper.

We’re not so lucky with the human price tag though.

Viruses can take us down – or destroy us completely.

Take norovirus, for example.

Highly contagious, extremely unpleasant – with gut-wrenching cramps, violent projectile vomiting and uncontrollable burning diarrhoea that put us out of action for 3 days or more.

Get complications, like dehydration – and we’re in hospital fighting for our lives.  Around 800 of us don’t actually make it.

Worse viruses than IT

But it’s not the being off work that costs. You’ve already budgeted for that – £522 per year according to the CIPD.

Much worse is the build-up and the aftermath. Staff members toughing it out to come to work feeling like death. Trying to work like that – and infecting colleagues without meaning to.

You pay for that too, though you don’t notice it. Highly professional people at half-power or less. Not really with it, making mistakes, missing out detail. Well just how much can you concentrate, when all you want to do is crawl away and die?

OK, so we’re over the norovirus in a few days – and a bit wobbly both sides.

But it’s not just norovirus. There’s rotavirus too – otherwise known as the common cold. And flu. And other kinds of tummy bug that FEEL as bad as norovirus – campylobacter, salmonella, e.coli, shigella, the list goes on for ever. And that’s not even looking at the dangerous ones.

Which means from the money angle, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. On average we’re unwell at work for 57.5 days a year. Almost three working months – at a cost of around £5,220 a year, reckoning on 10 times the cost of absenteeism.

Invisible costs

Invisible expenditure that, because you just absorb it. Your salaries are worked out for a twelve month period, assuming productivity at 100%.

In reality, though you don’t see it as an overhead, you only get nine months’ worth of value. The other 3 months  as we’ve seen, are staff dragging themselves through the motions. They’re doing their damnedest , but at nowhere near 100%. Plus you’ve got to factor in all the hiccups.

And that’s for ALL of us – not one or two!

Viruses make no distinction – neither do bacteria or fungi. A germ strike at work affects everybody from the chief exec down.

And Sod’s Law ensures it always happens at the least convenient moment. As the make-or-break contract approaches its deadline.  At the one critical moment when it’s all hands to the pump.

So let’s see, that’s £522 cost for being off sick – and £5,220 cost struggling through things at work. A grand total of £5,742 per staff member per year. Plus all the lost business from not performing at 100%. Doesn’t that sound like a ransom?

With a staff of just 10, that’s a cost over-run of more than £50,000. So OK, there’s always problems with servers and firewalls and stuff – but does your IT system plough through expensive unforeseens like that?

Alongside the human cost, that’s likely to be chickenfeed. But hey, they are your most valuable assets after all.

Germ defences, the nightly reboot

There is an upside though.

Like computers, you can switch off workplace germs just like that. And if there’s no germs, your staff can’t get sick, can they?

Oh, they’ll still bring in illnesses they’ve picked up outside. Like the 12 antibiotic-resistant superbugs they can pick up on the Underground. Or the 121 others they can catch on buses and taxis.

But step inside their workplace and they’re at germ zero.

The place is sterile thanks to a nightly mist-up of hydrogen peroxide that oxidises ALL bacteria, viruses and fungi to nothing. 99.9999% germ-free – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

Yes, they might still have their bug. But there’s nowhere for it to dwell, less chance to transfer it, and it’s hiding place will be neutralised in the next nightly treatment. Not just quarantined, but totally blasted out of existence.

Like a firewall for human viruses (bacteria and fungi too) – only better.

Picture Copyright: kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo

If germs are invisible, how safe is clean really?

Waitress checks glass
Polished to perfection and still deadly dangerous – the invisible threat of germs

Invisible? Too small to see?

So how safe is clean? The short answer is, not very.

Even when spotless , that wine glass could be crawling.

And what are you going to do, polish it? Buff it up, so it gleams?

Uh huh.

Well the average cell size for escherichia coli O157 – a very common killer superbug – is just 2 microns. And all it needs to infect you is 40 of them clumped together – still 1/250th the thickness of a human hair.

Plus this particular strain of e. coli can cause severe stomach pain and bloody diarrhoea – a seriously nasty case of gastroenteritis.

In severe cases it triggers kidney failure, haemolytic uraemic syndrome, and death.

Trouble ahead – even though you can’t see it

So first swig anyone takes out of that glass could land them in big trouble. You too, if it’s your glass in your restaurant and your customer decides to sue.

But check the glass and there’s not a mark on it.

Or on the cloth used to polish it either. Which more than likely has transferred invisible gobs of e.coli O157 to a whole stack of other glasses too – so it could be a slew of law suits.

How did it happen?

That glass, like all the others went through a machine at over 60⁰C – enough to kill most germs.  Ah, but the trouble started when it came out.

First off, it air dried – standing in a rack with all the others.

Remember we said that germs are invisible?

So just like you can’t see them on the surface of anything, you can’t see them in the air either.

Ramp up the hygiene – or else

Oh sure, sure – e. coli is usually transmitted by contaminated food, physical contact, or untreated drinking water. Reality is that ALL germs are also airborne – at just 2 microns across it’s impossible not to be.

So it’s floating around through the air-con, or swirling in through the door – or maybe hitching a ride on somebody’s overcoat as they come in.

And guess what?

Like most of us, pretty well all clientele arrive and start partying WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. So whether that e. coli is outside the glass or in it, this is a bad situation waiting to happen.

But of course, who says that e.coli is only on the glass?

Yeah right, the whole place gets cleaned before every lunch or dinner session – but how does anyone know that’s any safer either?

OK, food prep areas probably get scrubbed and wiped down with bleach – diluted of course because it’s toxic otherwise. Not too strong either because the smell lingers and puts the customers off.

Looks clean because of the scrubbing. But hang on – to be effective, that bleach has to be in contact with germs for at least 30 minutes. Maybe more, depending on dilution. Except what probably happens is a quick wipe down – 10 seconds at most, because everything LOOKS clean.

AND that same wipe down cloth – damp from a weakened solution – gets used t wipe the rest of the place down too. Transferring any germs it picks up from one surface to another – none of them dead because the contact time is too short.

Looks aren’t everything

Right, so – open for business and everything’s sparkling. Looks pretty to the customers, they’re all convinced.

You wish.

Reality is, despite all the scrubbing and polishing, the place could be as germ-laden as it was before any cleaning got started.

And it’s the same with everywhere, not just a restaurant.

Because of all the people who touch it, we’re 10,000 times more likely to pick up a bug from an escalator handrail as from a toilet seat.

Which means touchscreens, keyboards, lift buttons and light switches – our workplace is just as dangerous and germ-riddled. Al of us working together in the same space, breathing the same air, touching the same things – what can you expect?

And we’re none the wiser because everything LOOKS clean.

Better to trust our noses, they can sense bacteria better. We might not be able to see it, but we can SMELL when something is off – some of the time.

Playing safe

Better not to take chances at all and sterilise the whole place as a regular routine. Scrubbing is no guarantee of safety, so you might as well spend a little more and do it properly.

And the easiest, most painless way is to mist it up with hydrogen peroxide at the end of the day.

All surface, the air, all objects – are sterilised within 40 minutes or so, depending on room size. All viruses, bacteria and fungi dead – including e.coli O157.

So, invisible dirty, invisible clean – can you tell the difference?

If e.coli O157 is the price you have to pay to find out, why take chances?

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo