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.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

TCTM’s 2013 Top 10 Blogs

It's unfathomable that 2013 is almost at a close.  In writing this, our last and 52nd blog of the year Lee and I wanted to review the year and share what we and others think the Top 10 Talk Clean To Me blogs were.  In writing the blog, I'm undecided if you should keep David Letterman's Top 10 in mind (Lee's pick) or because I'm singing along to Christmas Carols if perhaps the 12 Days of Christmas or The Sound of Music's "These are a few of my favorite things" should be the theme song to hum while you read (obviously I vote for humming!).  I'll leave the decision to you and hope you agree with our Top 10 picks.

10. Burnt Bums Call for Ban on Disinfectants: Disinfectant residue determined to be the cause for chemical burns on a child's bottom.  Perhaps rather than calling for a ban on the use of  disinfectants and sanitizing agents in schools perhaps the better alternative is to lobby for the use of disinfectants and sanitizing agents that do not leave harmful residues behind.  For example, hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water an oxygen - that sounds pretty safe to me!

9.  It’s getting harder and harder to breathe!:Custodians and cleaners have the highest incidence of work related asthma.  What steps do you have in place to reduce the potential exposure to harmful and potentially asthma causing chemicals?  Does your product selection committee consider safer cleaning and disinfectant options or employ practices and protocols that will reduce a user’s chance of triggering occupational asthma?

8. ATTENTION LADIES! There is scientific proof of why men should put the toilet seat down!:  Lidless conventional toilets may increase the risk of C. difficile environmental contamination.   Should public toilets have lids?  Certainly, they may help reduce potential spread of "stuff" being flushed, but will very likely become contaminated themselves upon flushing.  Do you want to lift the lid knowing someone's "stuff" is on it?

7. Safe, Safer, Safely, Safest – Who knew they were “Bathroom” words!:  Safe, Safely, Safer, Safest, Green, Non-Toxic, Harmless... are wonderfully simple yet descriptive words that clearly impart in plain English a meaning that the general population can understand, however, when it comes to adjectives used to describe EPA registered disinfectants they are banned, they are taboo, they are to be avoided at all costs and if used....there can be hefty repercussions. 

6. ATTENTION PLEASE!! ATP CANNOT be used to compare different disinfectant chemistries!:  If you're looking to change cleaning and disinfecting products and are looking at the use of ATP to determine which product works better I hope you'll think twice!  ATP CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT  be used to compare cleaning or disinfection effectiveness between difference chemistries. 

5. ESKAPE Stops Here!:  When it comes to disinfection, antibiotic resistant bacteria should be no more of a challenge to kill with hospital grade disinfectant than the non-resistant strains. Ultimately, ESKAPE pathogens can have a major impact on the treatment options available to healthcare professionals, but in the world of cleaning and disinfection - it’s just another day at the office.

4. Viruses  - They cause more infections than you think!:  Did you know that some of the most commonly transmitted viruses are not killed by the disinfectant you may be using on a day to day basis?  Is your infection control program prevention or intervention based?  Infection PREVENTION measures such as changing of disinfectant solutions or increased cleaning and disinfection during winter months can certainly be implemented with relative ease and will contribute to fewer infections.  The alternative of course is having to implement INTERVENTION measures to help combat a viral outbreak! 

3. iPads, iPhones and Blackberries….oh My!:   Electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and portable computers have become increasingly important tools for the delivery of healthcare services   and certainly pose a very serious risk of becoming contaminated and acting as a source for the transmission of microorganisms.  How then do we develop and infection prevention program for  devices that were not developed with healthcare use in mind?

2. The Ugly Truth – 24/7, 365 = the optimal time for bacterial growth:  The ugly truth is despite our best efforts hospital associated infections (HAIs) continue to occur. A research team showed that within 6.5 hrs after cleaning/disinfecting, the bacterial burden found on bedrails had rebounded back by 30% – 40%!    Housekeeping budgets are largely comprised of man hours, cutting back on housekeeping are perhaps not the best way to save a facility money.  Is anyone brave enough to go ask for more money in order to hire more cleaning staff and increase the frequency of cleaning?

1. Cotton – it absorbs more than just water: Did you know Quats and cotton do not mix?  Perhaps your current VRE or MRSA outbreak is not due to poor cleaning, but due to the fact that while the name of the product may contain the word "Disinfectant" the cleaning process you are using may counteract and inhibit the ability for disinfection to actually occur. 

We hope you agree with our Top 10 picks (and if you haven't read them, we hope you'll take the time to read them now!)   Thank you from both Lee and I for your continued support of the Talk Clean To Me blog!  We hope 2014 is full of health and happiness for all!

Bugging Off!












Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Madness & Celebrating Microbes!

For many, this week may signify the last week of work (or school) for 2014.  Many people are winding down and preparing for the Christmas holidays (in my case, I'm winding up as I still have shopping, baking and a TON of wrapping to do!).  Assuming like me, your brain needs a break too I thought this week I would lightened it up and share someone's rendition of a Christmas classic!


The Night After Christmas*
‘Twas the night after Christmas and all through the kitchen
Little creatures were stirring up potions bewitching
Salmonella were working in gravy and soup,
In the hopes they could turn it to poisonous goop!
Clostridium were nestled all snug in the ham,
While Hepatitis A viruses danced in the yam.
Little John with his Gobots and Mary in her cap,
Had just settled down for a long overdue nap.
When down in their guts there arose such a clatter
They sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.
They ran to the bathroom, threw open the door
Too late! Now their mother is cleaning the floor.
Wash your hands before cooking! Put your food away quick!
Or that jolly old food germ we know as Saint Sick
With his eight tiny microbes will ruin the feast
As they make their toxins. He calls out to each beast:
"Now Hepatitis! Now Staph and Perfringens;
We'll punish those humans for holiday binges!
On Botulinum! E. coli! Shigella!
Go get 'em Amoeba! Work fast, Salmonella!
        If those humans can't learn to handle food right,
A Merry Christmas they'll have, then a long,
sleepless night!"

*Source: foodmicrobe.com

Next week will be the last Talk Clean To Me blog of the year - a review of my and some of the loyal Talk Clean To Me readers favorite blog of 2013.

Bugging Off!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Environmental Contamination - is the cloth more concerning than the patient?

Until now, I have never really given much thought to what may or may not transpire when doing laundry.  Certainly, I KNOW if you want to keep your whites white, you DO NOT want that errant piece of red clothing to be part of the white load.  Just as my mother had taught me, I separate laundry to have a linens load, a whites load, a colours load etc.  She DID NOT, however, teach me to have a separate underwear load.  If you keep reading you'll see where I'm going.....

Last week's blog Cotton - it absorbs more than just water focused on how cotton cloths absorb Quats and therefore impact disinfection.  It gets worse, SO MUCH worse. Gerba et al recently published a study in AJIC titled "Microbial contamination of hospital reusable cleaning towels".  The focus was not on what was found on the cloth AFTER using, but what was found on the cloth AFTER laundering and therefore assumed CLEAN!!!  Ten (10) hospitals participated in the study - 8 of which used cotton cloths, 2 of which used microfiber cloths.  Of the 10 facilities, 9 used a Quat as their daily disinfectant.   After last week's blog we know that's a potential infection prevention and control nightmare.  After sampling the "CLEAN" cloths Gerba and his team found that 93% of the cleaning cloths contained viable microorganisms EVEN AFTER LAUNDERING!

The microorganisms that were found on the offending cloths included bacteria that play a significant role in HAIs such as Klebsiella spp, Pseudomonas spp and Serratia spp.  The gross factor (at least to me) was the fact they found coliform bacteria on the cloths...for those who do not know, coliform bacteria are universally present in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals (and humans). Basically there was POOP on the cloths!

The researchers did find that there was a significant difference in the contamination level found after laundering the cotton and microfiber cloths with microfibers showing the highest level of bacterial adhesion.  Previously published data has supported the fact that bacteria adhere more strongly to microfiber cloths which can have the impact of spreading pathogens to different surfaces as the microfiber cloths are continually used.  In the end, Gerba and his colleagues found that typical laundering practices are not sufficient to remove viable pathogens from cleaning cloths.  What they could not determine was if the contamination was due to a breakdown in the laundering process or if the cloths get contaminated from storage and handling (I am going to hope it's the latter). The end result is that the Infection Preventionists and Environmental Services staff need to consider that cleaning cloths could be a potential reservoir for nosocomial pathogens.

I will admit, I have always questioned the laundering process at hotels and so I NEVER let the bed covers touch my face.  I think perhaps now, with the knowledge that coliforms can be found on cleaning cloths after laundering I am going to have to rethink how I sort my laundry.  Effective immediately, underwear are GOING TO BE LAUNDERED ON THEIR OWN....need I say more?

Bugging Off!



Friday, December 6, 2013

Cotton - it absorbs more than just water!

Bath towels, dish cloths, T-shirts and socks made of cotton have one thing in common - absorbency.  Whether it is wicking the water off after we shower, the sweat during and after a workout or wiping up the spills of water or milk we so frequently seem to have at my dinner table, many of us turn to cotton in some form. 

While microfiber is making in-roads, cotton terry cloth towels are still very prevalent as the cloth of choice for cleaning and disinfection within healthcare facilities.  Infection Prevention and the Product Selection Committee spend hours reviewing disinfecting products weeding through the attributes of the various chemistries, ensuring that they have the list of efficacy claims (the kill list) to meet the facilities' needs etc.   However, in focusing on what a product kills is there any consideration as to what impact the materials housekeeping uses to clean with will have on the efficacy of the product?  I think not.

In the October 2013 edition of AJIC, Koenig et al published an article titled "Decreased activity of commercially available disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium compounds when exposed to cotton towels".  As noted in the study poorly cleaned surfaces have been identified as being a potential reservoir for pathogens and may be the cause of many healthcare associated infections.  Numerous studies have shown that effective cleaning (and disinfection) is necessary to reduce the risk of HAIs.  Disinfectants are an important aspect in reduction of pathogens so reduction in performance of a disinfectant could play a significant role in allowing transmission to occur.

The truth is that is the negative impact on efficacy of Quats by either dilution with hard water and/or exposure to cotton cloths has been known for some time.  Koenig et al investigated the reduction of Quat concentration resulted from the use of cotton and microfiber cleaning towels and the impact this reduction would have on disinfectant performance.  The results were indeed scary. 

First the good news, it would appear in this study that exposure to microfiber cloths did not have an impact on the Quat concentration and that the products tested retained their full germicidal efficacy.  Cotton on the other hand did not fare so well.  Exposure of the Quat products tested resulted in a reduction of Quat concentration by 88.9% within 30 seconds of being exposed to cotton!    Excuse ME!?  That would leave only 11.1% of the actual concentration of Quat needed, tested and approved by the EPA to achieve disinfection.  In fact, when the researchers tested the efficacy of the Quat solution after exposure to cotton towels they all failed!  They were unable to meet the level of kill needed to be registered by the EPA as a hospital grade disinfectant. 

I'm not saying that Quats are bad.  BUT, this study certainly highlights the fact that we need to take more into consideration than just what a product kills, what the cost of a product is and what the material compatibility of a product is.  The impact and cost to a facility due to HAIs is very real.  I think Koenig et al have done an excellent job in highlighting the fact that when choosing a disinfectant the process by which a disinfectant will be used must also be taken into consideration and further research into potential interactions between the disinfectant and cloth choose to apply the product also needs to be considered.  Particularly if concerned about reducing HAIs and providing the safest environment for our patients as possible.

If you use Quats at your facility, I hope you'll run down to Environmental Services to see what type of cloth is being used.  Perhaps your current VRE or MRSA outbreak etc is not due to poor cleaning, but due to the fact that while the name of the product may contain the word "Disinfectant" the cleaning process you are using may counteract and inhibit the ability for disinfection to actually occur.

Bugging Off!