Welcome to Professional and Technical Services (PTS) – experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention. Our goal is to educate and provide you the latest resources related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, medical devices and hands. As specialists in disinfectant chemistries, microbiology, environmental cleaning and disinfection, facility assessments and policy and procedure creation we are dedicated to helping any person or facility who uses chemical disinfectants.

Our expertise is utilized by Infection Preventionists, Public Health Experts, First Responders, Dentists, Physicians, Nurses, Veterinarians, Aestheticians, Environmental Services professionals and janitorial product distributors to develop more sustainable cleaning and disinfection practices in North America.

Our commitment to providing chemical disinfectant education is more than business, it is a passion.

Friday, July 31, 2020

What is your Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfection IQ?













This week I had the pleasure of filming a couple of clips that will be used for a local news channel. While you, like I may be getting a titch weary of chatting about COVID-19, the truth is for the general public the pandemic has forever opened people’s eyes to the impact infection pathogens have on our lives. If we think back to February and March, we had the toilet paper hoarding incident, followed closely by the stock piling of disinfectants and hand sanitizers.

When it comes to cleaning and disinfection, if we learned from our parents we were probably led astray (sorry mom, if it helps you were taught wrong too!). As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the number of calls to poison control increased by 150% in Ontario between March 2019 and March 2020. It highlights the importance of going back to the basics - aka definitions - because once we are all talking the same language, we gain the confidence and comfort that we are doing what we need to for our family.

First, cleaning simply removes visible debris, dirt, and dust. It’s the first step in ensuring disinfection can occur as most disinfectants cannot kill in the presence of dirt (bleach included). For cleaning to be effective detergents are needed to help lift and remove soils from the surface. Think of it this way, if you were only to use mouth wash as your morning oral hygiene routine, you’d have fresh breath, but it does not remove the plaque and stuff we’ve collected during the day or overnight. That’s why we use a toothbrush.

Sanitizing is another term we frequently hear. Sanitizing renders the surface safe or makes the surface sanitary. Sanitizing is meant to reduce the numbers of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on surfaces and does kill some bacteria found on the surfaces. It is generally, what we need for day to day to keep our loved ones healthy at home and is what is required by public health for surfaces in restaurants, daycares, and schools.

Unlike cleaning and sanitizing, disinfecting “kills” germs like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Testing is completed and approved by Health Canada in order to make claims against specific pathogens and the product labels will clearly identify what germs they kill and how long it takes to kill them. While TV commercials may make it seem like disinfectants kill on contact, the truth is they do not. You need to read the label to determine how long the surface must stay wet to disinfect! The wet dwell time or contact time needed ranges from 1 minute up to 10 minutes. If your product says 10 minutes, then you need to keep that surface wet for 10 minutes.


When it comes to disinfecting at home, focus on the areas that are most frequently touched. Remember that hands spread germs to surprising places. Focus on high touch surfaces as these surfaces are often highly contaminated with pathogens, and we may not wash our hands after touching (TV remotes, light switches, cell phones etc). To give you an idea where some of the most contaminated surfaces are, in our kitchen and bathrooms, in order from most germy to least germy surfaces are bathroom sink, kitchen counter, bathroom faucet, common area doorknobs and kitchen drawer knob.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought! If you already know this, have a conversation with your friends and family. We need to spread the word and help make sure we can all do our part in stopping the pandemic and not hurting ourselves by improper use of disinfectants in the process!

Bugging Off!


Nicole

Friday, July 24, 2020

Young Adults and Teens Play Spin the Bottle with COVID-19


The problem with getting older is that you forget you were once young and prone to doing stupid things. Let’s face it, most of us learn by doing, and making mistakes is one of the best ways of learning. When you’re young you think you are invincible and generally lack the cognitive ability for critical thinking.

My brother and I actually had a conversation about this a month or so ago. We were reminiscing over the stupid stuff we got up to, and let me tell you - when you live on a farm, you have access to a lot of different materials, equipment and even animals. Our issue was that we were smart.  If we came up with an idea, we could execute upon it. We developed our critical thinking younger than some.  We learned quickly how to weigh the risks of successfully executing vs getting caught or maiming ourselves. We are both thankful we did not grow up in the era of cell phones and easy access to snapping pictures and taking videos.

We have hit a critical point in the COVID-19 pandemic where people are tired.  They are tired of hearing the statistics on the news, tired of being at home with the same people or small group of friends in their 10 person bubble, and sick of putting their lives on hold.  In you are a high school student entering college or university, this was supposed to be your summer to do the rounds of going-away parties. Those that have been working only for a short time may have made plans for one of their first adult trips, or maybe you hit the age of buying a house or having your first child.  Summer is a time to socialize, not socially distance.

While many are risking their lives working in hospitals and caring for COVID-19 patients, working in long-term care homes trying to keep the virus out or tasked with cleaning all of these places as well as the businesses that have opened, we are seeing the impact of undeveloped brains and inability to think critically.  Case in point is the fact that a town in Quebec just south of Montreal is being forced to shut down again after two house parties held by teenagers. One teenager had tested positive, but still attended and now at least 50 people have been confirmed positive and the ability to serve customers in stores around town is being impacted because of the spiderweb of contact tracing. The conclusion of one of the party hosts was “It was stupid.”

I agree, a house party is stupid, but what is beyond dumb is young adults in the US throwing “Coronavirus Parties” to see who gets sick first. Not only are they trying to get sick, the first person who gets sick wins the pot of money collected from ticket sales. In the US, where many do not have access to healthcare and several states are struggling to provide enough ICU beds, I wonder if that pot is large enough to cover medical expenses if the “winner” passes the virus on to some unsuspecting  poor soul.

We are in this together. We all want to get back to a relatively normal life and to that we need to listen to our infection prevention experts. We need to wear masks when in public or cannot keep a physical distance of 6 feet. We need to wash our hands frequently. We need to stay home when sick and we need to clean and disinfect. These are the tenets basic infection prevention.

When it comes to cleaning and disinfection, focus on what is important, high touch or commonly touched surfaces.  Remember that germs can live on surfaces for extended periods of time.  Thankfully viruses like COVID-19, once on a surface, cannot replicate.  Bacteria are altogether different and can reproduce and replicate at alarming speeds. During the pandemic, disinfection of these surfaces is not a once a day or once a week thing.  We need to be disinfecting public surfaces multiple times a day.

Please play your part in stopping COVID-19. I’m going to steal a line from my son’s favourite book The Big Meow when he was small enough to sit on my lap and read. “I’m just a little cat who wants to play. That’s the only thing I wanted to do today.”  I may be older, and I may have decent critical thinking skills, but even I just want to play with my friends and family!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, July 10, 2020

Invest in Your Reputation: Disinfection in the Post-Pandemic World

























Last week I took a much needed family vacation.  The time away from work was good for the soul!

This week I am going to try something a bit different.  Rather than writing a blog, I am going to share an article I wrote that was recently published in the National Post and shared online as part of a bigger education campaign for Business Resilience.  I’m curious to hear what you or your company is doing to support back to work programs to minimize the risk of COVID-19 entering your facility.  

If you have been working as an essential worker throughout the pandemic, thank you.  Healthcare workers and first responders are important, but we cannot forget to thank everyone else who continued to clean facilities, produce the food we eat or drink, PPE or the disinfectants being used to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

If you do not feel like reading the article, we’ve also created a video that summarizes the article!  I’ve been toying around with vlogging so you may see more of these in the near future!



Have a wonderful week and keep safe!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, June 26, 2020

COVID-19: 2020's STD












There are times when you think history is repeating itself.  Not everyone will remember when STDs, particularly AIDS, became a public health threat. In the beginning, AIDS was thought to be a disease only associated within the LGBTQ community. Why, do you ask, am I using STDs and AIDS in particular as a simile for COVID-19?

Consider the following:

COVID-19
AIDS
Caused by a virus
Caused by a virus
Zoonotic
Zoonotic (potentially)
Spread by contact with “secretions”
Spread by close contact with “secretions”
Outbreaks associated with groups of people
Outbreaks associated with groups of people
Can prevent spread by use of PPE
Can prevent spread by use of PPE
Public Health threat
Public Health threat
Public Apathy (ignoring recommendations, won’t happen to me)
Public Apathy (ignoring recommendations)

As we open up, we cannot let our guard down. If you are watching the news you will have seen that in the US, the number of cases continue to climb, and states like Texas and Florida that had relaxed stay at home measures are seeing their cases skyrocket. Some will argue that the cases are skyrocketing because more people are being tested. While it’s true that the more you test the more you will find, not testing does not mean the outlook is better.  This morning the CDC indicated that they think the cases in the US is 10x that of what is being reported.

In Ontario, Canada where I live, we have slowly started to reopen businesses.  People are excited to get out for hair cuts, manicures, and pedicures.  Summer has arrived and with the warm weather comes outdoor BBQs, days spent at the beach or at parks, so there is always the chance for relaxing and not following public health recommendations. In Ontario, 111 new cases were reported this morning (June 26th) with 30,000+ tests completed.  We have done a great job flattening the curve. However, with that we have also reported an outbreak associated with a Nail Salon, so we are not out of the woods. If we do not want to shut back down, we need to curb our apathy.  We are in this together.  Let’s wipe out COVID-19!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, June 19, 2020

Self Aware versus Socially Vigilant

























Riding out the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Globally, COVID-19 uncovered a lack of awareness and understanding for basic infection prevention and control measures within the general public, resulting in turmoil, panic, and anxiety.  Several weeks back I asked a series of questions about our current situation of COVID-Craziness.

  1. Are you more aware that we share our world with potentially infectious germs? 
  2.  Have you thought what your future may look like?  
  3. Are there traditions that will cease to exist?
  4. Are there aspects of what makes our society collegial that will no longer be followed? 


As more and more provinces, states, cities, and businesses open back up, how are you going to be self aware and socially vigilant? As this week’s image highlights, we need to be self aware and avoid men: Mouth, Eyes, and Nose.  We need to put into practice what our public health experts have been recommending throughout the pandemic and always follow women: Wash hands, Obey social distancing, Mask if needed, Eat healthy and exercise, and No unnecessary travel.


How then do we become socially vigilant? Let’s first contemplate what I mean.  Social or socially means relating to society and the company of others. Vigilant or vigilance is the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger.  How then, as we slowly begin to integrate back into society, do we practice social vigilance and protect ourselves from COVID-19 and any other number of infectious pathogens like Norovirus, Influenza, E. coli or Salmonella?  Whether you are attending your first dentist, chiropractor, hair, or nail appointment you can follow W.O.M.E.N. and ask your healthcare or personal services provider the following questions:

  1. Have you washed your hands?
  2. What practices have you put in place to avoid sick patients or clients coming in for appointments?
  3. Are you changing your mask and gloves between patients or clients?
  4. How frequently are you cleaning and disinfecting?
  5. Are you using a registered hospital disinfectant that meets the EPA or Health Canada Emerging Viral Pathogen guidelines for COVID-19?


If you did not observe your healthcare provider wash their hands or put on their PPE, be socially vigilant and ask them to do so. If they do not have a protocol in place to monitor the people coming through their front door, take actions to protect yourself such as keeping your mask on at all times, avoiding M.E.N. and washing or sanitizing your hands on the way out the door. If they are using a consumer and not professional hospital disinfectant with appropriate emerging viral pathogen claims that are intended for use in healthcare or personal service facilities, you may want to reconsider your appointment. 

In fact, I would not wait to arrive at your appointment before asking these questions.  Most healthcare and personal service facilities will be conducting patient and client screening when booking your appointment or upon arrival.  Why not use the knowledge you’ve acquired during COVID-19 and pre-screen your dentist, chiropractor, hair stylist or aesthetician?

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, June 12, 2020

Packaging Concerns with Alcohol Hand Sanitizers


I recently read a quote that sums up the COVID-19 pandemic perfectly, “Probably the most visible example of unintended consequences, is what happens every time humans try to change the natural ecology of a place” (Margaret J. Wheatley). It’s a catch 22. As humans we have developed the ability to overcome obstacles, improve quality of life, expand our needs, and wants and continue to take over the land that Mother Nature gave to us. The upside is we have virtually everything our heart’s desire.  The downside is that we tend to run into animals we may not have in the past or have created a situation for animals who would normally come into contact with each other to mix.  The unintended consequence of course, being emerging pathogens and zoonotic diseases.

Other unintended consequences of pandemics and outbreaks can be increased exposure to chemicals, resulting trips to the ER due to chemical burns, respiratory irritation and even ingestion. The reason for ingestion can be for any number of reasons; young children getting into things they should not have access to, or chemicals being put into bottles that are unlabelled and mistaken for something we can drink.  Even worse as we are starting to see, in our effort to ensure there is a sufficient supply of hand sanitizer we have moved to alternative suppliers who have access to mixing, bottling and labelling capabilities.  The bottles may be labelled appropriately as hand sanitizers. However, when you’re accustomed to that bottle being full or water, vodka, wine or beer and you grab without reading, you may be in for a rude, and potentially deadly situation.

According to Health Canada, the number of exposures to hand sanitizers reported to poison control has jumped from 105 reports in January to 200 in April.  Health Canada has released a safety alert to consumers to ensure we are reading labels. Access to hand sanitizer is a key component to ensure that the general public can perform hand hygiene when out shopping.  In normal times, selling hand sanitizers in packaging that looks like something to drink would not be recommended and generally not allowed, but COVID-19 has created shortages.  It’s a fine line that our healthcare experts need to walk as they weigh the risks between consumer protection and public health protection to help stop COVID-19 from spreading further.

As we continue to fight the battle against COVID-19, I urge everyone to take every precaution when it comes to handling and using disinfectants and hand sanitizers.  Chemicals can kill. Please be sure to read the labels of your products carefully and if you are using a hand sanitizer that is packaged in a bottle that looks like something we may be accustomed to drinking from please keep them up and away from the inquisitive hands of your children.  If you do not have to worry about children, but have husbands, keep in mind they rarely read instructions and with summer arriving, avoid buying anything that looks like a beer can!

Bugging Off!


Nicole


Friday, June 5, 2020

COVID-19 and the Consequences of Cell Phones


This week I vowed I would try to share some positive news.  In fact, I even got a notification from Hockey Canada that they have lifted the national ban on sanctioned activities and are allowing its members the opportunity to work with local health authorities on return-to-hockey plans!  As a hockey mom, I was more than a bit excited by the news.  Do I think there will be a season for my son? Time will only tell.   After I popped out for a few items for home, including a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs, I changed my mind after observing some questionable infection control practices: we’re going to chat about COVID-19 and cell phones.

A week or so ago I came across a letter to the editor of AJIC talking about cell phones as a forgotten source of SARS-CoV-2.  After what I observed tonight and even in my own practices, I would tend to agree that the widespread use of cell phones and the fact they are often permanently affixed to our hands that they could without a doubt be contaminated with everything and anything under the sun, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. Our current focus in terms of measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is  on social distancing, hand hygiene, avoiding touching our hands and recommendations to wear masks when in public, crowded places.  With business opening up and communities slowly transitioning back to normal, we now need to start teaching the public about fomites.

During my shopping spree, I observed more than one person walking around with and without gloves touching items with their phones in their hands. With the constant reminder from our public health officials that hand hygiene is vitally important, I am hoping that the majority of people wash their hands before they get into their vehicles and when they get home. When was the last time you cleaned and disinfected your cell phone?  Have you considered that everything you have touched could potentially have infectious diseases on them?  What good is wearing masks and washing our hands if we do nothing with our beloved cell phone?  While I have not seen any specific studies looking at how long SARS-CoV-2 can live on surfaces, but there is sufficient published data to support the fact that cell phones have been found to harbour bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

I hope that you will start adding cleaning and disinfection of your phone to part of your daily practice. We constantly touch our phones.  We put our phones to our faces.  We let others touch our phones with nary a thought.  COVID-19 has opened our eyes to what outbreaks can do. We need to use what we are learning not just to fight COVID-19, but to understand that pathogens are all around us.  There are frequent bacterial outbreaks that impact people around the word.  Influenza is an annual occurrence with upwards of 10,000 deaths each year in the US.

Bugging Off!

Nicole