Home Air Quality ‘Spray and Pray’ Not a Good Enough Strategy When Power Spraying Disinfectant

‘Spray and Pray’ Not a Good Enough Strategy When Power Spraying Disinfectant

Glenn Hasek

Faced with the prospect of disinfecting a space for COVID-19, many are utilizing corded or cordless sprayers of one type or another. I understand the thinking. You can cover an area quickly, be thorough about it, and then move on to the next space. In press releases distributed by our industry’s leading companies in recent months, many have announced they will be using electrostatic sprayers to disseminate disinfectant. I wrote an article about that technology and other spray technologies this past week. Be sure to read my article. A big thank you to Green Seal for adding additional valuable material about sprayers. Be sure to read that Q&A article as well.

In a nutshell there are four types of sprayers to consider: simple spray bottle type sprayers, electrostatic sprayers, foggers (fog sprayers) and airless sprayers. These are all just disinfectant delivery devices. You cannot just spray any type of disinfectant using a power sprayer, you need to know exactly how to use such equipment, you need to have the proper protective gear for the person doing the spraying, and you need to know the operational impact on a space—how soon that space can safely be used after application, for example.

Spraying disinfectant should not be done without a plan. “Spray based on what the chemical company recommends,” says Dan Johnson, Global Total Markets Manager, Contractor Equipment Division, Graco Inc. The EPA provides a long list (List N) of disinfectants for use against COVID-19.

The Importance of Precision

Precision is important when it comes to productivity, cost and safety. Electrostatic sprayers and airless sprayers are more precise than fog type sprayers. The less time it takes for the disinfectant to get to a surface, the better.

“Fumigating a room with disinfectant can increase the risk of exposure to dangerous concentrations of chemicals, and from an operational perspective, will require hotels to close off spaces for longer periods of times due to the required waiting time before the disinfectant settles out of the air and re-occupancy is safe,” says Nina Hwang, MPH, Senior Scientist at Green Seal.

Neither the World Health Organization nor the Centers for Disease Control recommends the application of disinfectants by fogging, Hwang says. That said, List N does include at least one disinfectant that has been approved for use with fogger devices. EPA has already approved a few List N disinfecting products for use with electrostatic sprayers. EPA and CDC are still exploring the efficacy of other EPA List N products for use with electrostatic sprayers. According to Graco Inc., provider of airless sprayers, its machines are List N disinfectant compatible.

Can you spray disinfectant in an entirely “green” and healthy manner? “Disinfectants are designed to kill pathogens, so none of them is completely harmless,” Hwang says. “That’s why EPA doesn’t allow manufacturers to label disinfectants with third-party certifications like Green Seal. However, there are some active ingredients that are safer than others yet just as effective. Green Seal put together guidance on how to find List N disinfectants with safer active ingredients in our Disinfecting Guidelines.”

Are you currently using electrostatic sprayers, fog sprayers or airless sprayers to disseminate disinfectant throughout your hotel? I would love to know what your experience has been. I can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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