Welcome to Professional and Technical Services (PTS) – experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention. Our goal is to educate and provide you the latest resources related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, medical devices and hands. As specialists in disinfectant chemistries, microbiology, environmental cleaning and disinfection, facility assessments and policy and procedure creation we are dedicated to helping any person or facility who uses chemical disinfectants.

Our expertise is utilized by Infection Preventionists, Public Health Experts, First Responders, Dentists, Physicians, Nurses, Veterinarians, Aestheticians, Environmental Services professionals and janitorial product distributors to develop more sustainable cleaning and disinfection practices in North America.

Our commitment to providing chemical disinfectant education is more than business, it is a passion.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mommy, this water tastes funny....

In developing content or finding topics for Talk Clean To Me I often use stories from the field or questions I get via emails, phone calls or at conferences.  However, it seems several of my friends have had real life tragedies associated to HAIs and disinfectant misuse as of late.

As the title states, imagine hearing your young child calling out to you in distress...while on vacation I might add.  The condensed version of this true story is that a water bottle filled with bleach was left on the bathroom counter in my friend's hotel room.  The bottle was the same brand and size as the bottled water they had been buying to drink.  There was no label affixed to the bottle to
identify that it was not water and not fit for consumption.  The child, thinking it was just water, drank some....he's fine (after a trip to the hospital), but the situation was awful and without a doubt this event had left everyone shaken.  They were
lucky. 

The family of George McAfee, a former running back for the Chicago Bears, however, was not so lucky.  McAfee died in 2009 after drinking bleach he found in an unlocked cupboard at the assisted-living facility he resided in. The bleach burned his lips, esophagus and lungs before he died in terrible pain in hospital.

Which brings me to the point of this week's blog. The importance of properly labelling chemicals - any chemical that has been decanted into a secondary bottle.  Labels are a vital component to safe use of chemicals. They are the first alert that there may be hazards associated with using the product and are required by most companies as part of Workplace Safety Legislation. Aside from identifying the product and potential hazards, a label also tells you what precautions to take when using the product or steps that need to be taken in case of an accidental exposure, ingestion, what have you.

In general, a workplace label must include the following information:

1. Product identifier (product name)
2. Information for the safe handling of the product
3. Statement that the SDS is available
4. May contain the WHMIS/GHS hazard symbols or other pictograms.

These are the minimum requirements for workplace labels. Depending
on the country in which your company operates and the markets you serve, there are varying regulations to comply with. Further, employers may wish to put more information on the labels but it is not required under the law.

The long and the short of it is that whether we are in a hospital, a school, a hotel or at home, if you decant a product into another container - LABEL IT!!

Hugs to my friend and her little one!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, January 23, 2015

Egg or Chicken? IP Guideline or EPA Registered Product?

Many creationists today would tell you the chicken came first, because the Book of Genesis reveals that God created birds on the fifth day (along with sea monsters), ergo we can presume that these original birds emerged as full-fledged adults.  Evolutionary biologists on the other hand will tell you something completely different. About 300 million years ago, reptiles developed their own kind of external egg, with a leathery skin and an internal food supply. Their descendents - the birds - came onstage 100 million years ago with their own revisions of reptilian egg-technology. 

Quite frankly, if you insist on asking this question, you'll just have to come up with your own answer as it certainly doesn't matter much either way.....although I did find a pretty funny joke by Googling "Chicken or Egg".

Why am talking about chickens and eggs?  Well the same thing applies to Infection Prevention Guidelines and their description of disinfectants and recommended concentrations.  Let's be honest, if we're lucky, most guidelines only get updated every 5 - 10 years.  Aside from our age, weight and eyesight, a lot can change in 5 years....new pathogens can arrive, new products hit the market and new science is published. 

It's for this reason that we have to keep in mind that disinfectants are not governed by Infection Prevention Guidelines...guidelines are just that - guides.  Disinfectants are regulated by the US EPA or Health Canada.  In all cases the EPA or Health Canada approved label which includes the product's shelf life information, efficacy claims, contact times and most importantly CONCENTRATION and dilution information trumps information found in our Infection Prevention Guidelines.  A disinfectant's label is the KING of all things related to correct use of disinfectants.  For example, if we only used information found in Infection Control Guidelines published in 2008 we would not be investigating the use of the safer and more effective Improved Hydrogen Peroxide products, which use far less hydrogen peroxide than HICPAC's current recommendation of 3% for hydrogen peroxide products.  Nor would we be looking at Peracetic Acid or Silver-based products as alternative disinfectants to the use of bleach for cleaning environmental surfaces to combat C. difficile.

I'm not saying that our guidelines are not important.  Without a doubt they are.  They serve as the foundation from which we build our infection prevention programs, but we need to keep in mind that we live in a world of constant change and constant improvement.  Don't get stuck in the past.  Don't get stuck in believing the only thing correct is what you read in black and white in a guideline.  Keep in mind that some guidelines were probably written a number of years ago and since then, times have changed and the guideline in question may not have been updated.  If we are to move forward and improve our infection prevention programs we need to take comfort that the EPA and Health Canada regulate and enforce the claims, the contact times, the concentrations and dilution rates for all the disinfectants that we are looking to use.  That doesn't mean you have to believe everything a sales rep tells you, but you can certainly find the information you need to be comfortable in your choice by reading the label affixed to the bottle!

Since I started this blog talking about eggs........What day of the week do eggs hate most?  
FRY-DAY!!!! (Bad I know, but happy Friday!)

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Thursday, January 15, 2015

PCR - Useful, but not reliable for validating cleaning & disinfection practices

The need to be able to verify if cleaning and disinfection procedures have been completed to ensure successful eradication of pathogens, particularly in outbreak settings, is of significant importance.  In the Healthcare market we have seen a rapid uptick in the use of UV markers or ATP.  As mentioned last week, 2015 will include topics of interest in the Animal Health market and not surprisingly, they have their own way of validating cleaning and disinfection practices.  Where ATP, UV Reflectance or environmental swabbing are commonly used in the Healthcare sector, the Animal Health sector seems to favour Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for determining the health status of animals, as well as for validating cleaning and disinfection practices.  However, as identified in previous blogs, ATP cannot be used to compare different disinfectant technologies and that caution needs to be used when interpreting results. Similar to the impacts of different disinfectants on ATP tests, it is important to recognize that the mechanism of action of disinfectant chemistries can have a direct impact on the use and interpretation of PCR test results.

PCR is a biochemical method in which a single strand of DNA can be multiplied into thousands and millions of exact copies. In a way, PCR is a “photocopier” of genetic materials. The reaction often takes place in a single vial where the necessary reagents (polymerases, primers, nucleic acids, buffers, etc.) are combined into a single solution. The vial is placed in a machine which can be programmed to rapidly take the solution through various cycles of temperature (a PCR machine). It is through this calculated temperature cycling of the solution that the enzymes exponentially produce new copies of the original DNA strand.

The use of PCR is great if one is trying to selectively amplify a known segment of an organism’s DNA. The organism can be a bacteria, virus, or a mammalian cell. The PCR method is extremely selective (due to the specific primer molecule designs), and therefore it will only amplify the targeted strand of DNA. This means that, if one was looking to amplify a segment of poliovirus DNA for example, the solution in the vial must have at least one copy of that target DNA or at least have one poliovirus cell.

The key to understanding the limitations for using PCR as a validating tool for cleaning and disinfection is the fact that it can amplify DNA molecules regardless of the origin of the DNA. The origin of the DNA could be from another PCR run, a live bacterial cell, an infective virus cell, or a ruptured cell content. Therefore, PCR cannot be used to confirm if a surface has been disinfected, as PCR is not designed to check for virulence and infectivity of various pathogens and is only used to amplify a target DNA. The DNA can come from live or dead pathogen.

In general, disinfectants are designed to inactivate pathogenic agents and to ensure microbes no longer have the ability to be infective. There are many different active ingredients that are used in formulating disinfectant products, each with a distinct mechanism of action. In other words, each disinfectant active ingredient has its own way to inactivate the pathogens. Some block metabolic centers of the bacteria, leading to bacterial cell death, others may rupture the cell membrane of the bacteria or virus. Other active ingredients may target and degrade the genetic material of the pathogenic cells, and others may deactivate these cells by degrading the functional cell enzymes. Regardless of the method, in all the examples above the pathogens are inactivated so that they no longer are alive or are able to cause infection. Using PCR to test disinfection of a surface can therefore be misleading as one active ingredient might kill pathogens through rupturing their cell membrane, while not degrading the DNA within the cell. This would cause a false positive when using PCR, as the presence of DNA of a pathogen on the surface by no means indicates it is still infectious!

Bugging Off!


Nicole

Friday, January 9, 2015

Welcome to 2015!

If, like me, you were able to take some time off over the holidays you are likely trying to slowly edge yourself back into the work routine and rid yourself of sugar cravings after eating so many sweets leading up to and during the holidays.  I found a great 4 ingredient recipe for Lemon Drop cookies...not too sweet, but highly addictive!  

It's hard to believe that come May we will be embarking into the 5th year of the Talk Clean To Me blog.  We have >180 blogs under our belt and one would think that we've "talked cleaning" to death.  In truth we have only just scratched the surface!  The amount of science that has been published in the last couple of years around cleaning and disinfection, compliance monitoring, etc. has been phenomenal, and Lee & I look forward to continuing to bring the latest updates to you!

For the last 4 years our blog topics have been a mix of general discussions that can apply to any market who uses cleaning and disinfection products and review of science or topics more specific to Healthcare.  Moving into 2015 we will be expanding our focus to markets outside of Healthcare such as Spa and Salon (I mean who does not like a good mani-pedi!), Animal Health (both companion animal and farm animals as there are numerous outbreaks associate with animal shelters and farms) and a bit more into the building facility maintenance (education, government, transportation... well.....any type of building - and even vehicles that we may be exposed to!) and lastly the consumer market (what can we do at home to stay healthy!). We look forward to continuing our journey with everyone and look forward to reaching out and adding new readers! 

Wishing everyone a wonderful January, a lovely February, a peaceful March, a stress-free April, a fun-filled May, joy that lasts from June to November, and finally a happy December...I just hope this year doesn't fly by as fast as 2014!  


Bugging Off!

Nicole