Local business using fog treatment to fight COVID-19 at courthouse, other facilities
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IDAHO FALLS — A local business is helping other organizations battle the novel coronavirus by providing a service that can kill COVID-19 on surfaces and protect against future contamination.
Scott Nielson and Clint Tavenner own Pure Maintenance of Idaho – a company that specializes in increasing air quality by killing single-cell pathogens. Their job mainly consists of going into homes and treating them for mold. Nielson said their cleaning process has been proven effective in the treatment of bacteria and viruses such as H1N1, ringworm, MRSA, staph, CDiff, anthrax, mold and hand-foot-and-mouth. Due to similarities, they’re confident it helps with COVID-19 too.
Businesses, government agencies and medical facilities have reached out to them about their services as a proactive approach for protecting people from COVID-19.
“(This process) doesn’t do anything for (stopping) transmitting it from person-to-person, but (it does help) as far as helping people not contract it through touching surfaces and then touching their faces,” Nielson said.
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention says the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. It can happen between people who are in close contact with one another or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Experts recommend people avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands because their hands have often been on frequently touched surfaces.
“As far as being scared about what you’re touching and that you can possibly get it from different surfaces you’re touching – that’s the main reason we’re getting calls from people,” Nielson said. “They want their employees to come to work and feel safe.”
The Bonneville County Courthouse is currently using the fog treatment. County Commissioner Roger Christensen said leaders are doing this to keep employees and the public safe. He said the courthouse has never undergone this kind of treatment process before.
“It gives a real good deep clean. If somebody then walks in with contamination, it starts building back up but at least you haven’t got so many pathogens running around,” Christensen said.
Some of the courthouse was treated last week, but more of it will undergo the process this week.
The complete treatment process consists of three parts. First, workers disinfect and sterilize the area by dry fogging. This is when they mix vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and distilled water together. It’s put into a machine that disburses the concoction.
“That is what breaks down the virus,” Nielson said.
When pathogens are exposed to the vapors created from the solutions, their cell wall or membrane ruptures, killing the cell, Nielson explained. Not only does the fog not leave a residue or get anything in the area wet, but it’s similar to the liquid grocery stores spray on fruits and vegetables.
“COVID-19 is an enveloped virus. This means that the virus does not have the classic outer membrane of a typical virus that we normally treat for,” Nielson told EastIdahoNews.com. “Instead, it has a thin lipid covering, which is substantially easier to melt away with our process than the harder shell of non-enveloped viruses.”
The second step is an antimicrobial coating. By performing this step on the already sterile surface, the coating makes it difficult for bacteria and viruses to survive on.
“The antimicrobial application creates a protective layer on surfaces by adding microscopic spikes that are about 1/1000th the width of a human hair,” Nielson said. “These spikes pierce the viruses and bacteria membranes that land on them. This makes it so they cannot survive and potentially infect people who touch them.”
The third step is optional. This is when they install an environmental probiotic purifier system that releases billions of probiotics into the air. One reason this is done is to help the antimicrobial application not deteriorate.
After treatment is complete, it continues to fight against COVID-19 for 90 days or more, Nielson said.
“We haven’t had any cases of coronavirus reported in the courthouse, where you have so much public,” Christensen said. “(But the treatment process) kind of gets everything down to a zero baseline and then helps us keep it cleaner from there.”
Although not everybody will be able to have their businesses and homes take part in this treatment process, the CDC recommends people clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If surfaces are dirty, they say clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
More information on disinfectant options can be found here.