Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Microbial Contamination and Mold Remediation in the Cannabis Industry

Molds, bacteria, and yeast are present everywhere, including in the air we breathe. Controlling mold and other pathogens is essential for any operation as it is a strong threat to cannabis, potentially wreaking havoc on crops. Microbiological contamination is more common than cultivators realize. They can get tracked in from anywhere at any time, and there is always some amount of mold spores in the air pretty much everywhere you go. According to California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control testing of 10,695 legal marijuana samples from July 1 through August 29, 2018, their findings produced 1,904 failed standards. This included 403 failures due to pesticides, 99 failures for residual solvents or processing chemicals, and 114 failures due to microbial impurities such as mold, E. coli, and salmonella. Decontamination is important to ensure a quality product reaches consumers.

Chlorine dioxide gas is the optimal solution for any decontamination scenario as it is a gas as room temperature, ensuring it will come in contact with every spore on every surface, even the tiniest of cracks and crevices. Ultraviolet light disinfection is a fast, simple to use, and chemical-free method, capable of providing a 99% reduction of spores within minutes. Depending on your operation, there are different challenges to preventing or eliminating contamination.


Chlorine Dioxide Decontamination
Gaseous chlorine dioxide is an EPA registered sterilant that can be utilized prior to any plants entering the space to ensure any pre-existing mold spores be remediated. This significantly reduces the risk of cannabis crops “catching” any new mold spores. For a complete kill of all potential organisms in the entire facility, chlorine dioxide gas is the optimal way to fill an entire space evenly and completely, decontaminating every surface, crack, or crevice with no residues or additional cleanup.
Liquid chlorine dioxide can be sprayed, wiped, or mopped onto walls and floors, environmental surfaces, growing vessels, or chambers to eliminate any existing harmful organisms. Liquid chlorine dioxide can also be dosed into irrigation water or used in hydroponic systems to eliminate any contaminants. 

Ultraviolet Light Disinfection 
Ultraviolet light (UV-C) is an easy way to achieve high-level disinfection to any exposed surface in minutes. It also eliminates odors. This chemical-free and residue-free disinfection method will help reduce mold spores, therefore minimizing future risk of exposure to the cannabis plant. This is best utilized in a completely clear space to ensure maximum exposure to the UV-C light. If there are complex shapes to the space or objects in the space, the unit may need to be repositioned or multiple units may be needed to ensure as many surfaces as possible are exposed to the disinfecting light.


Chlorine Dioxide Decontamination
A chlorine dioxide gas treatment of seeds can be completed in a chamber prior to use to deactivate any surface bacteria, mold, or other undesirable organisms. Because CD gas is a dry, residue-free sterilant, this will ensure that the seeds are in optimal condition and no longer pose risk to a plant developing mold during the growing phase. Utilizing a Tyvek pouch will allow the gas to penetrate through, keeping the seeds sterilized until ready for use.
Seeds can soak for mere minutes in a liquid chlorine dioxide solution to eliminate any surface contaminants that may be present. The removal of such contaminants will improve the future health of the plant by diminishing the risk of mold.

Ultraviolet Light Disinfection
UV-C can be applied to seeds utilizing a tabletop disinfection chamber. While the seeds are inside, they receive 360 degrees of UV-C exposure so long as they are spread out atop quartz glass shelving, limiting overlap and shadowed areas. A 99% kill on any surface mold will result without any undue harm to the seed, destroying any surface organisms that may cause mold issues in the future during the plants’ growth.


Chlorine Dioxide Decontamination
If mold is present or forms while drying or being stored, chlorine dioxide gas can be utilized. ClorDiSys’ EPA-registered CD gas will inactivate all microbiological contaminants without leaving a residue. This treatment can be performed either in an enclosed chamber when only a select few plants are of issue or the decontamination of an entire room if there is a widespread outbreak. Prior to decontamination, users should confirm compliance with legislation.

Ultraviolet Light Disinfection
As a fast, high-level method of disinfection without the involvement of chemicals, ultraviolet light can be utilized in numerous ways throughout the growing process. This includes the elimination of odors. It can be used on a continuous, preventive basis to avoid the spread of any mold introduced or on an as-needed basis. Buds can be treated by UV-C light to eliminate mold that may grow on the surface during the drying and curing phases. UV-C light may be emitted via a wall unit or transportable device during the drying phase in order to destroy surface contaminants. At any point, including curing, the buds may be placed inside a UV-C disinfection chamber to receive direct 360-degree exposure quickly killing spores wherever the light shines.

At ClorDiSys Solutions, we take a broad look at your operation to determine the entry points for mold and other pathogens to provide expert advice and recommendations for environmental surfaces, tools, and the plants themselves. From creating stronger workflows to recommending new disinfection equipment and procedures, we aim to be a partner for your business. Drawing upon our experiences in contamination control within many different industry types, including pharmaceutical cleanrooms and food production, we deliver solutions that have been used successfully in some of the world’s most critical environments. From seed to store, ClorDiSys can help manage your risks and produce safer products for your business.