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, May 17, 2019

Boatman are you still out there?


If you’ve ever had a service related job, be it in a call centre or being a waitress or any IT department, you likely have “a story” about a customer.  Over the years, I’ve had several.  One of my favourites was a gentleman from New York State.  It was spring time.  He was getting ready to launch his boat and he found a mouse nest.  When he first launched into his story, he was so panicked I thought we were dealing with an infestation and hundreds of nests and mouse poop as far as the eye could see.  I eventually teased out the fact that we were dealing with a single nest, there were no mice around and he had recently watched a TV program on zoonotic diseases that cause death and was concerned he had caught Hantavirus.

Hantavirus can cause severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease in humans that is spread by several types of rodents.  Thankfully, only a very few number of human Hantavirus infection cases are reported each year.  Deer mice in particular are known to carry the virus and shed the virus through urine, saliva and poop.  People can pick up the virus by breathing in virus particles when cleaning up after the mice (e.g. sweeping up a nest or poop).  You can also get infected if bitten or if you touch broken skin with infected material. 

Boatman, knowing he could get Hantavirus from cleaning up after a mouse, was beyond agitated, as his boat was small, he had been cleaning and sweeping with no PPE prior to finding the nest and was concerned he had inhaled enough dust to get sick.  I’m not a medical doctor.  I do not have the credentials to diagnose people and certainly I’m not going to speculate with a stranger over the phone.  The best I can do is help calm his fears by giving him information on how to clean up the mess in a way that will limit transmission.

This weekend is a long weekend to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s birthday.  There will be a lot of cottage openings and more than a few boat launches.  If like me, you’re heading to cottage country, here are a few tips if you come across a mouse nest or mouse poop.

  1. Wear gloves.
  2. Do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming.
  3. Spray a disinfectant onto the material and let sit for the contact time as noted on the product label.
  4. Use a paper towel to pick up the poop or other material and dispose in the garbage.
  5. Re-apply the disinfectant, again over the entire area and ensure the contact time is met.

Luckily, Hantavirus is an enveloped virus and is easy to kill when it comes to disinfectants.  While it can be frightening, coming across a nest and mouse poop, as long as you take some simple precautions the risk of contracting Hantavirus is low.
To my Canadian readers – Happy May 2-4 weekend! 

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, May 10, 2019

Things That Make Me Cringe…


There are advantages and disadvantages to traveling and having a kid in competitive hockey. I’ve become a professional packer. I get to see some pretty amazing places and meet even more amazing people. The downside is that I use a lot of public washrooms.
Case in point, this week I spent several nights in a hockey rink for my son’s tryouts. I’m part of a great group of hockey mom’s. We cheer when our son’s do well and cry when something goes wrong. Last night we were huddled together over drinks cheering on our sons for their final skate. As expected, after a drink or two, the “facilities” are often needed. The washroom was surprisingly clean. There was nothing on the floor, the countertops and sinks were clean and the mirrors sparkling. Then I went to use the hand soap…
Did you know that refillable hand soap containers have been linked to bacterial contamination? In fact there have been a number of studies highlighting that up to 25% of refillable soap dispensers in public washrooms were contaminated with bacteria. Even worse, a study conducted by Montana State University found that not only was there bacterial contamination in refillable soap dispensers, but that that these dispensers also contained bacterial biofilm! The researchers found that the biofilm bacteria was able to attach to the inner dispenser surfaces. Furthermore, the cleaning and disinfection protocol used to clean the dispensers demonstrated that even when cleaning with highly concentrated disinfectants, the biofilm was not removed. They had in fact adapted to live in the soap environment.
Another study using students and staff at a school as subjects, looked at the levels of Gram-negative bacteria remaining on or transferred from hands after washing with contaminated soap found in the refillable soap dispensers. As expected, the levels of bacteria found on hands after washing with contaminated soap was higher than if using uncontaminated soap and the “dirty soap contaminated hands” were able to transfer more bacteria to a secondary surface.
Refilling soap dispensers is a double edge sword. Buying in bulk can be cost effective and reduces the amount of plastic and is better for the environment. Unfortunately, refillable soap dispensers are hard to clean and prone to bacterial contamination. What do you do with your hand soap at home? I used to buy in bulk, but no more. While I’m using more plastic, I do look for soaps that are environmentally friendly, packaging that contain recycled content and make sure that I recycle my empty soap containers.
As I head for yet another hockey tournament, you can be sure that I have a supply of premoistened hand wipes and lots of alcohol hand sanitizer!
Bugging Off!
Nicole
PS – my son made the hockey team last night, but we shed lots of tears for our friends that did not.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Worms and Germs


I’m a spring baby. In fact, this is the eve of my birthday. Over the last several weeks I have talked about spring cleaning. Spring brings new growth, budding trees, plant pollen and worms on sidewalks after a heavy rain. I hate worms. I can’t stand touching earth worms, in fact I can put a worm on a hook using a stick and a rock. My dislike for worms goes way back. As a child I had a cat who spent as much time outdoors and indoors. He was an avid hunter. He ate what he caught and as a result he would get tape worms. If you have never seen a tapeworm segment, be thankful. I have nightmares.  My nightmares worsened in university when my roommates, who happened to be in the same Zoology course as me, thought it would be fun to place pieces of rubber bands cut in small tape worm segments in my bed. I happened to be coming back late on a Sunday night when they did it. I got into bed, I felt something odd. I whipped back the covers, flicked on my lamp and nearly had a heart attack. For the love of @#)$!  I had tapeworm segments in my bed! It took me a few moments to be brave enough to touch them and realise they were elastic bands. At this point my “friends” were giggling so much I realised I had been punked…

Laugh away. I can now. But why bring this rather embarrassing story up? Well, dogs and humans can be infected by a potentially deadly tapeworm that University of Guelph researchers say is now in Southern Ontario. The tapewormEchinococcus multilocularis, wasn't thought to be present in Ontario until five sick dogs from the west side of Lake Ontario were identified. We may not think of tapeworms as being a huge concern, but this one is particularly nasty. It can cause disease of the liver and, if left untreated, can spread to other organs and cause death in dogs and humans. An analysis of Canadian hospital discharge data showed that between 2001 and 2014, 242 patients were treated for echinococcosis, and while this may not be a huge number to everyone, it does highlight the importance of this as a zoonotic disease. In fact, Ontario became the first province in Canada to make it mandatory for physicians and veterinarians to report all human and animal cases to local public health departments.

Humans are infected when they eat tapeworm eggs. This can occur by eating foods such as vegetables, fruits or herbs, or drinking contaminated water. The eggs can also stick to our hands when we pet an infected dog or cat, when we handle a wild animal or its carcass, when we touch contaminated soil or vegetation. We can also pick it up via an uninfected pet that happens to have the eggs on their fur. Do you have a dog that may roll in poop? 

If you’re like me, you may have started gardening. I’m not much of a gardener, but I do try to get things in order as early as I can and we do have a vegetable garden where yes, I eat what we have grown directly off the plant after a quick wipe on my pants. I do not have a dog and while we may have the occasional skunk or rabbit, we do not have a yard where coyotes or foxes show up.  I suppose I can consider myself lucky. If you have a dog, try to minimise their wandering and as with many infections, hand hygiene is a key method to stop transmission. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling dogs, before handling food and of course avoid ingestion of food, water or soil contaminated with dog poop.

Bugging Off!

Nicole



Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Cleaning - Fridges, Freezers and Cryostats


There are some who really fancy a good spring clean. Whether it’s purging your closets with clothes you no longer wear, cleaning out the fridge of expired food or your freezers ancient relics of freezer burned food, you will find that there is something cathartic about cleaning and purging. 

I suspect that many have not considered how to clean and disinfect cold surfaces like the inside of a fridge, a freezer or even a cryostat for example. Disinfection is all about contact time - the length of time the surface MUST stay wet to achieve the disinfection claims as noted on the product label. For some surfaces this can be problematic. If the surface is hot, the disinfectant is going to evaporate well before the contact time can be achieved. Can you imagine how quick a hot surface will flash off the product if an alcohol based product is used?

Cold or freezing surfaces pose an entirely different issue. How do you keep a water-based product like a disinfectant from freezing when it comes in contact with a surface that is below freezing? The truth is it’s hard, hence the topic of this week’s blog.

Disinfectants can come in a number of different formats such as Ready-To-Use (RTU) Liquids, Pre-Moistened Wipes and Concentrates that require dilution prior to use. When dealing with cold temperatures, part of the decision you need to make is how to avoid your liquid disinfectant from freezing so that you can apply it to the surface you need to clean and disinfect. In this case, your only option is the use of a concentrate.  

Why you ask? Well, as the name implies RTU Liquids or Pre-moistened wipes are products that are intended to be used as they are manufactured and packaged. They have been tested and approved for use by the EPA, Health Canada or any other regulatory body to be used at the concentration stated on the bottle. Doing anything to an RTU or Wipe product, such as the addition of another chemical will dilute the product and render it ineffective. At the very least, you’ve changed the concentration so that the disinfectant manufacturer will not be able to provide any proof indicating the product will still be effective or what the contact time would be.

Concentrates on the other hand need to be diluted prior to use. This then allows you to add propylene glycol (PG) while diluting (usually up to 10%). Similar to how we have a Summer Windshield Washer Fluid and a Winter Windshield Fluid, propylene glycol is added to stop the freezing. The importance of this however, is that you need to work with your disinfectant manufacture to verify if they have conducted testing to ensure if you add PG that the product will not be neutralized. You also do not necessarily want to use winter windshield washer fluid as we found it can impact the pH and efficacy of products!
If you’re looking at spring cleaning a few of your hard to clean devices or machines, I hope you’ll contemplate how you used your disinfectant so that you achieve the level of kill you need!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

PS – if you’re interested check out some of our past blogs that talk about contact time such as:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Best Before, Not Bad After


I’m sure I’m not the only one who has seen an expiry date on a product and wondered if it’s still good. Without a doubt, I have thrown caution to the wind and eaten something that had expired. I’m here to tell the tale of it, so obviously I have been lucky so far. Food is probably the most common source of the “best before, not bad after” scenario. In fact if you google it, you can find several sources willing to tell you how long you can continue to consume something past the labels expiry date.


The same goes for drugs and disinfectants. When registering products, a regulatory agency requires a manufacturer to conduct testing and provide data to prove that the drug or disinfectant being registered will remain effective for the products shelf life. I’ll be truthful, in most cases the drug or disinfectant is still effective after the expiry date. The question is for how long after? That question is harder to answer. The shelf life a manufacturer provides is intended to ensure there is a reasonable amount of time from when a product is manufactured to when it is used. A fail safe may be built in, as let’s be honest, we know people are going to use the product beyond the expiry date found on the label, and of course, we do not want a product to become less efficacious as it approaches its expiry date. The last thing we want is for a drug to not treat the infection, or cease the migraine, and of course, when it comes to disinfectants, we do not want to run the risk that the disinfectant to be the cause of an outbreak, not killing what the facility needs it to kill.


This is why it is SO important to ensure you know the shelf life and expiry date of the disinfectants you are using. The truth is, I have worked with hospitals that upon investigation, we realized the reason an outbreak was not brought under control was because the disinfectant they were using had expired and had no “killing juice” left. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the picture that is the inspiration for this week’s blog. It was sent to me by an acquaintance. This was a disinfectant wipe product that was in an exam room at a hospital and was being used to disinfect the shared patient care equipment. Would you want that equipment used on you? I’m comfortable with a 6 month window to use drugs and disinfectants past their expiry date, but four (4) years?! Well, I would be refusing to allow any of that equipment to be used on me until after it was cleaned with a product that had not yet expired, and I would seriously be questioning the infection prevention and control program of the facility.  


HAIs kill almost 100,000 people per year. Please don’t let the reason for catching an HAI be the result of an expired disinfectant.


Bugging Off!


Nicole


PS – Yes, this is one of the products my company manufacturers. I’m not happy the product is 4 years old, but this is a teaching moment I cannot in good conscious pass by.