Coronavirus Surface Disinfection and Verification
The Coronavirus is a type of virus that often causes respiratory diseases in people and animals. In the fall of 2019, a new mutation of a Coronavirus was first detected in China. The new variation was soon recognized to have properties similar to the 2003 coronavirus that led to the description of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The virus was named “SARS-CoV-2” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can lead to a specific form of illness characterized by a very high fever and dry cough named “coronavirus disease 2019” - abbreviated “COVID-19”.
Despite worldwide efforts at containment, COVID-19 has spread around the globe and was declared by the WHO to be a “pandemic”; a world-wide epidemic of an illness for which people have no natural immunity. To address the risk, significant efforts are being directed at developing a vaccine because there isn’t one available.
With the recent pandemic, there are a few different types of tests and technologies for surfaces and buildings being marketed regarding the verification of disinfection for the coronavirus. Guzi-West staff are currently evaluating these, however at this time don’t feel that the available tests can absolutely determine the total disinfection of the virus from any given surface.
Recent studies have shown viable coronavirus can be detected up to three hours later in the air, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is best practice for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in your household and in community settings. Regular household cleaners are effective, including bleach solutions and alcohol solutions of at least 70% alcohol. The EPA provides a list of disinfectants effective against COVID-19. Depending on the length of time in the facility and the areas traversed by the confirmed COVID-19 case, consideration may be given to using a professional cleaning/disinfection service and extreme measures such as ozonation, UV disinfection, and/or ULV fogging.
Any test method to determine complete disinfection of the virus needs to be evaluated carefully. Will the test method directly measure the presence of the coronavirus? Will the test be measuring for simple proteins which may be already present in the environment? Will it be measuring for DNA or RNA sequences that may relate to the virus, and can it differentiate between a live sample and dead sample that has been deactivated by sanitation? The best testing methods will actually culture and grow organisms from the surfaces and can determine if potential virus particles have been fully disinfected.
The Guzi-West team currently utilizes rapid clearance monitoring equipment, a Clean-Trace NG3 Luminometer, to perform sewage spill clearance testing measurements within the affected areas of a structure. The Luminometer measures the presence of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is a protein present in all animal and vegetable matter. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a compound found in every living cell and can be used as an indicator to determine if a surface was properly sanitized. ATP devices are utilized to detect the presence of bacteria and organic/food residue on surfaces. This test method has a long track record of use in the food-production and medical industry where sterile or near-sterile conditions are required. However, viruses don’t produce ATP, therefore this method doesn’t directly indicate the disinfection and complete elimination of the coronavirus. Testing an area with an ATP bioluminescence device may qualitatively give a measure of general cleanliness and is often used as such in the medical arena following sanitation of surgical instruments, but could give false negative results regarding the presence of the virus, depending on the cleaning and disinfection procedures.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or genetic testing for COVID-19 virus regarding disinfection verification is still in the very early stages. This test method utilizes a lab analysis directed by a machine called a thermocycler, that’s programmed to alter the temperature of the reaction every few minutes to allow DNA denaturing and synthesis. Sometimes called "molecular photocopying," the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a fast and inexpensive technique used to "amplify" - copy - small segments of DNA. Because significant amounts of a sample of DNA are necessary for molecular and genetic analyses, studies of isolated pieces of DNA are nearly impossible without PCR amplification. This analysis can detect even very small amounts of the DNA that’s very specific to a virus or other organisms. As the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new, these tests may not be available at commercial levels for some time. Additionally, PCR testing cannot differentiate between living and dead virus particles and may give false positive results from surfaces that have been cleaned with a standard antimicrobial application and a simple wipe-down. The primary focus of laboratory testing at this time is on determining human infection.
Guzi-West will continue to research and evaluate any and all technologies as they become available to determine the viability and efficacy as related to coronavirus disinfection and verification. Contact us today to discuss the current status of disinfection verification options for COVID-19 for your home or business in the areas of Arcata, McKinleyville, Eureka, Chico, and Redding. (888) 351-8189
Some useful links regarding Covid-19: