Sanitizing Programs vs Custodial programs
Schools use custodial programs to “clean” their schools each night so that the schools will be healthy for the students, teachers, and staff for the next day. Included in the “cleaning” is the polishing of floors and shiny objects, such as restroom fixtures and water fountains.
But are schools really healthy after this is done? What determines how healthy a building really is? To answer this question we must determine the opposite of healthy: being sick. What makes someone sick? Bad germs, allergens, and viruses are to blame. The more germs, allergens, and viruses that are in schools, the more students, teachers, and staff will become sick and risk spreading illnesses to others. we must decrease the germs, allergens and viruses in order to make schools healthier. These particles are both on surfaces and in the air of the building. objects that look clean can still have millions of germs on them. Visual cleanliness is a poor way of determining how germ free something is.
Most allergens are invisible to the naked eye. Germs range in size from 0.2 microns to 0.9 microns and viruses range in size from 25 nanometers to 0.4 microns. Because we can see less than 0.01% of these particles that make us sick, We have to use scientific measuring devices.
4 Cleaning Methods
There are four degrees of describing a healthy room; cleaned, sanitized, disinfected, and sterilized.
Cleaning removes visible dirt from the surfaces, but none of these particles from the air. Since all of these particles that are not suspended in the air attach themselves on visible and invisible dirt, removing the visible dirt decreases the number of these particles in the building and makes the building from 0% to 10% healthier. custodians use cleaning programs to clean schools.
Sanitizing is the removal of all the visible dirt as well as the removal of most allergens, germs and viruses. Sanitizing removes/kills between 10% to 70% of these bad particles on surfaces and in the air.
Disinfecting kills from 70% to 99% of these bad particles on surfaces. Many disinfectants are harsh chemicals and must be used carefully in order to be safe for the user and for the occupants of the building.
Sterilizing uses high heat to kill all germs on the surfaces of objects being sterilized. It is not applicable for use in killing germs in buildings.
Different people have different levels of resistance to different pathogens depending upon their degree of healthiness. The threshold of one person’s resistance to germs might be several times that of another person. Therefore it is not necessary to try and remove/kill all these bad particles, it is only necessary to remove/kill those that keep their level below the resistance threshold level of the occupants.
A good sanitizing program is the best choice for daily use in schools because it can keep these bad particle counts below the threshold levels of the occupants’ resistance and is safe for both users and occupants.
Schools get dirty quickly, meaning that these bad particles are transferred from students to other students, surfaces, and the air almost immediately. A University of Arizona study put tracer germs on four student’s hands. Four hours later they found it on 50% of the surfaces of the building and 50% of the students.
80% of the dirt is brought into the schools on the soles of shoes but everything that comes into the schools is covered with these bad particles including the occupants, air, clothing, computers, books, book bags etc. That makes sanitizing the schools difficult enough, but the occupants of the school don’t just impart germs from their clothing and when they sneeze or cough, they also impart germs when they talk and breath by exhaling small droplets of germ laden moisture which can stay suspended for long periods of time and travel on air currents. Therefore, a good sanitizing program must not only include keeping most of these germs from getting into the school, but continually removing those that continuously come from the occupants.
Therefore sanitizing is only effective if it is continually done during the day when students, teachers and staff are occupying the building and it must use effective processes, tools and equipment in order to sustain the healthiest environment for the building’s occupants in order to decrease school acquired illnesses to minimum levels.
A good sanitizing program can do this without disrupting the teaching/student learning process and not cost any more than the present ineffective custodial programs now being used in the schools.
Schools must change from using custodial programs to using sanitizing programs.