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What We Need to Know about Electrostatic Sprayers
By Robert Kravitz, President AlturaSolutions
Published: 09/28/2020

Prison cells Due to the coronavirus, many correctional facility administrators are hearing about electrostatic sprayers. They are being used, for instance, in schools, helping administrators ensure students are safe from the virus when they come back to school.

They are also being used in many other types of facilities, including gyms, office buildings, hotels, and more. So, let us better understand these devices to see if they are something administrators should also be using in correctional facilities.

However, I am going to let you make the final call. My goal is to provide more insight into what these machines are, what they do, and some of the pros and cons surrounding them.

First, we should know they are not new. They were first introduced in the 1930s, where they were used by specific industries and for particular purposes such as painting and coating.

They were not used that much in the professional cleaning industry just a few years ago. But with the virus, they have become an essential tool in the industry, helping to stop the spread of the infection.

Essentially, they apply a disinfectant solution over a wide area. The solution is given an electrical charge so that it attaches to surfaces as it is used. Once on those surfaces, the disinfectant goes to work, killing germs, pathogens, and infectious viruses…or, at least, that is the goal.

Without using the sprayers, also known as misters, many of these surfaces would have to be cleaned manually. So, the sprayers save a lot of time. Plus, they more thoroughly coat surfaces with a disinfectant. For instance, instead of just a door handle being disinfected, with the use of an electrostatic sprayer, the entire door and surrounding area can be sprayed and disinfected.

Further, they have been tested and their value proven.

One of the most recent studies was published in the August 2020 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. Entitled, "Evaluation of an electrostatic spray disinfectant technology for rapid decontamination of portable equipment and large open areas in the era of SARS-CoV-2," the study was performed at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where "shared equipment," such as wheelchairs and waiting room chairs, are used by many people during the course of the day.

In this study, surfaces were swabbed and cultures were collected before using the electrostatic sprayers. They were tested again after spraying the surfaces. These were the results:

Before spraying, nearly 50 percent of the surfaces contained different types of bacteria and pathogens.

After spraying, the researchers reported that 94 percent of the pathogens on the wheelchairs and waiting room chairs had been killed or deactivated (no longer harmful to humans).

These are indeed very impressive results. Further, some of the major electrostatic sprayers manufacturers have also had tests conducted, many returning with results just as impressive as this.

Drawbacks

So, those are some of the positives about electrostatic sprayers. What are some of the concerns? Among them are the following:

Clean First: While it is not necessarily a negative, what correctional administrators need to know is that electrostatic sprayers do not clean. In fact, as when using most any disinfectant, surfaces must be cleaned first and then disinfectant. Applying the mist on to a soiled surface may not prove effective at killing pathogens.

Dwell Time: When a disinfectant "sets" on a surface, it must remain wet. This is referred to as dwell time. When using electrostatic sprayers, this dwell time may be extended. So, let us assume a surface has been sprayed with an electrostatic sprayer. The disinfectant is supposed to dwell on that surface for ten minutes to ensure all pathogens are killed. However, it dries after six minutes. In such cases, the disinfectant may not have dwelled on the surface long enough to kill pathogens on that surface.

Not EPA Certified. The Environmental Protection Agency approves – registers - disinfectants in the U.S. This registration says the product does what it is supposed to do when used as instructed by the manufacturer. However, as of this writing, these disinfectants have not been tested using an electrostatic sprayer. As a result, even if a registered-disinfectant is being used in a correctional facility, the EPA cannot guarantee it is doing the job – killing germs that can cause COVID-19 – as it is designed to do.

The rest is up to you. If interested in these systems, the next step is to call on a distributor that markets them or a manufacturer. Further, read up on the devices. The more you know, the easier it will be to decide if adding electrostatic sprayers to your cleaning arsenal will keep your facility healthier.

Robert Kravitz is a frequent writer for the corrections industry. He can be reached at robert@alturasolutions.com


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