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Public Restroom-A high risk environment

From an environmental health scientist’s point of view, a restroom, in particular a public restroom is a high risk environment. That’s because, at its most basic level, the restroom is essentially a bio-hazardous waste transfer station. In more graphic terms, the restroom is where biological waste is transferred from one system, the human digestive system, to another, the sanitary sewage system.

When all goes well, this waste is safely contained within a manmade plumbing system and transported to a suitable disposal point where it is properly processed.

Unfortunately, with humans and mechanical systems involved, the transfer is not always as effective and sanitary as we all would hope. Hands often become contaminated in the “elimination” process, which then come into contact with flush and sink handles, door knobs, tissue and soap dispensers and other touch points, creating a high risk of faecal-oral transfer and disease. Also, spillage, backups, accidents and drips are common, releasing countless bio-contaminants onto floors and other surfaces. Moreover, every flush of the commode creates an aerosol of urine and faecal toxins, releasing millions of waste particles and microorganisms into the air that eventually settle on floors, dispensers and other surfaces.

Besides containing potentially infectious microorganisms, these substances can be rich food sources for odour and disease causing bacteria, especially in a warm and moist environment. And odours, which are considered by some to be merely “nuisance” issues, typically come from bacteria excreta and can actually signal the presence of more harmful pollutants. Is it any wonder, then, that restrooms consistently generate more complaints than any other area of the building? In fact, if you listen to a number of critics today, schools and other public facilities are experiencing an undeniable restroom crisis.

To make matters worse, given that an indoor environment is basically a set of interconnected compartments through which organisms flow, the problems associated with restroom sanitation don’t stop at the restroom door.

Contaminated hands, shoes, book bags, briefcases, pencils, purses, and more track the soils, microorganisms and infectious waste into cafeterias, kitchens, stairwells, patient rooms, classrooms, desk tops and other areas and surfaces.

Cleaning workers, often unaware of the dangers of cross contamination, re-use their mops and buckets elsewhere in the building, essentially cleaning the hallways with sewage.

Cleanliness and Health

It is not good enough that restrooms are cleaned just for appearance. Cleaning for health must be the ultimate goal. Recent studies show that there is a one in ten risk of picking up an infectious disease in a hospital. And, seasonal school closures due to illness, outbreaks on cruise ships, food poisoning in restaurants are all too common, and often times avoidable by proper cleaning methods.

No-Touch Cleaning

Kaivac originally developed its no-touch cleaning systems to address the public restroom, which is not only the number one source of building maintenance complaints but is also often considered the most dangerous area within a building by environmental scientists. Kaivac No Touch Cleaning System is represented and distributed in India by Cosmic Healers Pvt Ltd.

Designed from the beginning to remove the maximum amount of undesirable soils, bacteria and other indoor pollutants, a no-touch cleaning system combines automatic chemical metering and injection, an indoor pressure washer, and a powerful wet vacuum into a single integrated system. Its ultimate purpose is to decontaminate a building’s bio-hazardous waste transfer station.

The Process

To begin, the cleaning professional applies automatically diluted cleaning solution to fixtures and floors in a low pressure fan spray. As the liquid cleaning solution dwells, it loosens and lifts soils in preparation for vacuum extraction. In addition, the fluid on the floor brings residual dehydrated soils, such as dried urine, into a liquid solution.

Next, the operator blast-rinses the target surfaces with fresh, pressurized water, power-rinsing hard to reach areas such as seat hinges, behind toilets, grout lines, etc., carrying the contaminants to the floor in a current of water. The power of the indoor pressure washer is at an ideal setting to attack accumulated matter without causing harm to building surfaces or personnel. In a heavily soiled environment, the operator may also choose to manually brush problem spots to further loosen soils.

At this point, the operator suctions all liquids and contaminants from the floor with the system’s built-in wet vacuum. This high-flow hard surface extraction process creates a liquid current that transports the unwanted matter into a recovery/contamination holding tank where it is contained and quarantined. The vacuum also leaves the floor virtually dry and ready for near immediate use. Once the restroom has been cleaned, it is highly recommended that the hazardous materials within the holding tank be disposed of properly within the confines of the cleaning site. To eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination, they should never be transported into other areas of the building. Consequently, the no-touch cleaning process includes built-in dwell time, which is typically minimized during mopping, to loosen and lift soils.

The no-touch cleaning process also enforces the use of fresh ingredients in order to minimize the risk of cross-contamination. But perhaps most important, the suctioning of soils and liquid through the system’s built-in wet vacuum carries all contaminants away from surfaces, including the vulnerable grout lines.

Regardless of which method is used in the restroom cleaning process, it is vitally important that results be measured. Only then will we be able to truly determine whether or not harmful and unwanted indoor pollutants have been removed from the environment.

As the impact of cleaning on the health of a building also increases significantly, a number of companies have developed extremely accurate hygiene measurement devices that detect and quantify the presence of biological agents on surfaces. Prevalent in other industries, these types of tools will become necessary and mainstream in the cleaning industry.

Kaivac Inc.

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