Monday, May 24, 2021

Annual Decontamination of Food Processing and Manufacturing Facilities


Microbial contamination of food production facilities continues to be a challenge for the industry and can present a significant health hazard to human safety.  Sanitation after a contamination is hugely important, but preventive decontamination is equally significant and can reduce positive swabs in the future. Many times, bacteria are able to survive simply because of limitations of the cleaning method utilized by the sanitation program. By taking greater preventive measures, risk of microbial issues can be minimized or eliminated. Performing an annual “deep clean” of your facility by decontaminating it with chlorine dioxide gas allows for a true reset to zero pathogens.

In order for any decontamination method to work, every organism must be contacted by the agent, for the proper amount of time and at the correct concentration by an agent effective against that organism. Common sanitation methods like steam, isopropyl alcohol, peracetic acid, bleach and ozone have a limited ability to reach all surfaces within a space, and some are incapable of killing all microorganisms.

Failure to eliminate all pathogens will result in recontamination over time as surviving pathogens have time to multiply to large enough numbers where they can be transferred to other locations in the facility and cause a more widespread contamination. These recurring contaminations cost more money in the long run, especially if they are discovered by FDA and USDA inspectors. Chlorine dioxide gas has been proven to be a successful decontaminating agent capable of killing pathogens in areas that other sanitation methods fail to reach. Effective in both dry and wet conditions, chlorine dioxide gas has been used by the dairy, produce, meat, grain, spice, frozen, and beverage industries.

Preventive decontamination is essential, and chlorine dioxide gas offers the process advantages to reduce the risk of contamination and recall. An example of this would be a dairy powder processing plant had been decontaminating their production environment with chlorine dioxide gas annually for the past few years. Over this time, the facility made improvements to its equipment and the building itself in order to mitigate some of the issues that were uncovered after resetting the plant’s microbiome.  In one instance, the facility was able to trace a new contamination to a minor water leak into their plant.  More recently, it was determined that the environment was in much better control than in previous years as no pathogens were found in the environment.  With that information, the ClorDiSys service team entered discussions with the facility to amend the scope of the decontamination. Instead of treating the entire production environment, the decontamination would focus on the tanks and piping system up through to the packaging equipment.  This strategy enabled the facility to save both time and money as the treatment volume was dramatically reduced, while still acting as an annual sterility marker.

To learn more about the benefits of an annual decon, join our webinar on June 24 at 1pm Eastern.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Annual Decontamination of Life Sciences Facilities

In laboratories, vivaria, and research facilities, contamination control is critical.  Any contamination can affect the quality and results of the research and work taking place within the facility.  Routine cleaning and sanitation take place, but are aimed towards the most accessible areas such as floors, benchtops and common touch points.  Performing an annual “deep clean” of your facility by decontaminating it with chlorine dioxide gas allows for a true reset to zero pathogens.  By taking greater preventive measures, risk of microbial issues can be minimized or eliminated. Measures such as annual preventive decontaminations will help to eliminate the presence of any harmful organisms that would cause such issues. Decontamination with chlorine dioxide gas offers many benefits over other agents for such purposes.

Chlorine dioxide gas fumigation allows for the complete decontamination of a facility all at once with minimal downtime. Gaseous chlorine dioxide is the safest and most effective way to decontaminate BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories, passthroughs, biological safety cabinets, HEPA housings, and any other lab spaces. Unlike vapor or liquid based decontamination agents, chlorine dioxide will remain a gas over a wide range of temperatures and pressures, and gases are unaffected by room configuration and the amount or positioning of equipment. Our systems provide the ability to achieve complete distribution and penetration to each and every surface within your facility, including microscopic cracks and crevices to deliver an extremely high level of biodecontamination, something other agents such as vapors, mists, and fogs cannot promise. Our chlorine dioxide is gentle on materials and leaves no post treatment residuals so animal racks, cages, computers and other sensitive equipment can be left in these areas during the decontamination process. Rooms and equipment can be decontaminated all together in one single step thus eliminating the need for time consuming and costly autoclaving.

Depending on the size, facility decontamination can take place utilizing in-house chlorine dioxide gas generators or through ClorDiSys’ decontamination services. ClorDiSys provides services for routine or single-time events and specializes in contamination prevention and response for new and existing facilities. Chlorine dioxide gas has successfully treated many vivarium facilities to eliminate pathogens and pinworm eggs, new facilities to establish sterility, as well as facilities undergoing renovation. Whether it is a full room decontamination, or focused on separate equipment or components, routine prevention methods like annual decontamination will minimize the risks of a dangerous outbreak of pathogens by resetting your facility back to a true sterile state.

If you'd like to learn more, please join our Resetting to Zero: The Benefits of an Annual Decon webinar on June 24

Monday, May 10, 2021

Annual Decontamination of Cannabis Facilities


A cannabis product may fail contaminant testing if it has unsafe levels of microbials, heavy metals or pesticides. Among microbials, the most common is powdery mildew mold, aspergillus, or bile-tolerant, gram-negative bacteria. Each can have a dangerous effect on human health, especially in medicinal users who are immunocompromised. As testing regulations tighten over the cannabis industry, the need for high-level, effective decontamination options has become paramount. The heightened standards have seen approximately 20-30% of recreational product failing their microbial tests. To prevent their product from failing testing, companies need to maintain an optimum growing environment for plants and plan an annual decontamination to remove any and all microbial life.

When it comes to indoor grow operations, decontamination is of particular importance. Many cultivators struggle with mold and rot, never understanding the link between decontamination and a healthy grow operation. Tidying up spilled dirt, wiping down containers, and handwashing are basic sanitation measures. Decontamination goes beyond that. It eliminates organic threats like mold spores, fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Spores can spread and settle on many surfaces inside the grow room including lights, bulbs, and hardware. A scheduled downtime every year, whether it is room by room or the entire facility at once, offers the opportunity for complete decontamination to ensure sterility of the space. Chlorine dioxide gas is the optimal solution for any decontamination scenario as it is a gas at room temperature, ensuring it will come in contact with every spore on every surface, even the tiniest of cracks and crevices. Gaseous chlorine dioxide is an EPA registered sterilant that can be utilized prior to any plants entering the space to ensure any pre-existing microorganisms and their spores be remediated. The chlorine dioxide gas decontamination process can be easily scaled up to volumes of millions of cubic feet. Chlorine dioxide is also able to be quickly aerated as it will not condense on surfaces or absorb into many materials. ClorDiSys Solutions’ pure chlorine dioxide gas is one of the gentlest decontaminating agents available and should not be considered in the same as liquid chlorine dioxide products.

Most cannabis users rightfully assume the products they buy from dispensaries are safe and free from harmful pathogens. No matter whether decontamination is required by law, companies should still ensure their product is clean for their consumers’ sake. Scheduling an annual decontamination can provide that level of sterility needed.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Using the Flash-Thru as an Alternative to Spraying and Wiping

 In the Pharmaceutical, Biotech, Life Science, and Medical Device industries, companies need to produce product and perform research in areas with a high level of sterility. To do so, product manufacturing and testing occurs in expensive cleanrooms.  High amounts of attention are given to maintaining the cleanroom environment and often require personnel entering the cleanroom to undergo rigorous gowning procedures.  However, transporting in supplies & equipment into the environment brings forth added challenges.  Spraying and wiping items in order to disinfect them is the method commonly used, however this method is unreliable and inefficient.  Unsuccessful disinfection often occurs due to human error, insufficient chemicals used, inappropriate dwell time, or any number of other factors.   

When determining if a chemical agent is appropriate, there are several varieties; sporicides, disinfectants, sanitizers, and antiseptics.  All have very different intended uses and may or may not be appropriate for the application in mind.  If a chemical agent is chosen based on the application it is intended for, then one has to consider the necessary dwell time.  To illustrate the importance of dwell time, an example can be given of the extensive dwell time of bleach being over ten hours on a surface. 

Even if the proper contact time was achieved and personnel feel as though they are doing a good job, the manual procedure of spraying and wiping poses risk of not reaching all areas of an item that may harbor organisms.  Areas are often not considered, or not treated with appropriate attention which leaves contamination still present.   

However, another tool that can be used is Ultraviolet light (UV-C).  The major advantage to UV-C disinfection is the efficacy and the minimal time it takes to achieve that level of kill.  It is a fast, simple to use method that is capable of providing a 99% reduction of spores within minutes without chemicals.  This allows for little concern over material side effects due to the lack of dangerous residues needed to be wiped down or neutralized afterwards.  UV-C kills everywhere that the light is shining, meaning all exterior surfaces will achieve disinfection.  The limiting factor is if objects are sitting on a surface due to an inability to get 360 degrees of light exposure.  However, materials such as a quartz glass shelf placed within a UV-C chamber can alleviate that concern due to the penetration capability quartz glass has in comparison to most other materials.  An example of a device that complies with the needs of a cleanroom is the Flash-Thru UV-C disinfection pass-through.  The chamber is installed within a wall to allow for items coming into the cleanroom to be disinfected immediately prior to entry.  From the non-sterile side, one of the two UV-C protective doors is opened, then the user places the item(s) on the quartz glass shelf, assuring not to stack items, then the start button is pressed.  Depending on the target organism, kill can be achieved even as little as 30 seconds.  Once the lights cease, the opposite door located on the cleanroom side can be opened and the item can be retrieved.  This method of disinfection is appropriate for many applications, but especially electronics that are entering the space because it is very gentle and will get successful kill on items that would normally not be disinfected appropriately, or could be harmed with use of a chemical agent.  Cellular phones, pagers, tablets and computers are all examples of technology that would be pertinent to treat in this manner. 

To better illustrate the inefficacy of spraying and wiping surfaces alone, Animal Resources Centre in Australia performed various tests to better realize the inadequacies spraying and wiping resulted in.  In the testing below, organism colony counts were measured at three separate intervals.  Initial swabbing prior to any cleaning, secondary swabbing after spraying and wiping, followed by a final colony count after ultraviolet light was used in the space.  Completing the traditional cleaning eliminated many organisms, however many were still present.  The addition of ultraviolet light eliminated almost all remaining organisms that were still in the environment.  This experiment shows that ultraviolet light technology has the capacity to reach many areas that are often missed by humans, and can do so in a highly effective manner.