In the infection prevention and control industry, environmental cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces is becoming more important than ever before. Research studies show that environmental cleaning and disinfection can play an important role in helping to prevent the spread of infection. A new, promising technology in this industry is the application of EPA-approved disinfectants utilizing electrostatic application systems for proper surface disinfection.
Electrostatics is a proven technology in the agricultural and automotive industries. This technology is now being integrated into the infection prevention and control industry as a tool to break the chain of pathogen mobility.
What is Electrostatics?
Electrostatics is a branch of physics that studies the phenomena and properties of stationary or slow-moving electric charges (Electrostatics, 2016). Electrostatic phenomena is easily demonstrated when lint is attracted to clothes, or when dust clings to a TV screen. These descriptions are examples of Coulomb’s law. Coulomb’s law, first published in 1783 by French physicist Charles Augustin de Coulomb, states that opposite electrical charges attract and like charges repel. Electrostatics involves the buildup of charge on the surface of objects due to contact with other surfaces (Electrostatics, 2016). Electrostatic induction charging is a method of creating or generating static electricity in a material by bringing an electrically charged object near it. This causes electrical charges to be redistributed in the material, resulting in one side having an excess of either positive (+) or negative (-) charges.
Using Electrostatics for Surface Disinfection
Most surface areas are neutral (uncharged) or negative. Electrostatic application for surface disinfection is a method of applying EPA-registered disinfectants to a target surface area by utilizing electrostatic force of attraction. Simply put, the electrostatic system places an electrical charge on the droplets and disperses them across a target surface area, providing a comprehensive, even coverage. This provides a consistent and uniform coverage in which the droplets adhere to vertical, horizontal and three-dimensional surfaces. As proven in the agriculture and automotive industries, this electrostatic application process takes less time to achieve the desired effect, while substantially reducing chemical costs. (Laryea and No, 2004 and 2005; Matthews, 1992)
Research has shown that microorganisms can survive on surfaces for days, weeks, and even months, and can be hidden from current spray and wipe methods. (Kramer, 2006) Using electrostatic technology provides effective, proven, safe and comprehensive surface coverage and eliminates cross contamination of dangerous pathogens. Electrostatically-applied disinfectant droplets do not suspend or linger in the air. These electrically charged droplets are super-attracted to their opposites. Subsequently, chemical disinfectants can achieve a 99.999% efficacy rate (with proper dwell times and adherence to EPA chemical recommendations) (Ebron, 2014)
In both third party testing and real world settings, clinical studies have shown electrostatic application methodology can provide efficacy and significant improvements within environmental services terminal cleaning procedures. In the American Journal of Infection Control, a study for decontaminating the operating room environment was presented. It was found that using persistent technology with a quaternary ammonium and trichloromelamine solution using a 40-micron electrostatic applicator will significantly reduce colony-forming units (CFUs) remaining after standard terminal cleaning (Sutton, 2015). A study performed in the laboratory setting with an 85-micron electrostatic applicator utilizing a hydrogen peroxide and sliver based product for efficacy against S. Aureus, P. Aeruginosa, MRSA, and C. Difficile showed an average of 99.999% reduction of vegetative bacteria (S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and MRSA) and an average 99% reduction of spore-forming bacteria (C. difficile) as labeled on the product for surfaces (Ebron, 2014). Other healthcare system studies have shown a significant decrease in hospital re-admission rates, turnaround times for patient discharge/transfer rooms, chemical consumption, and in labor. (Blake G. and Whiteley, B., 2015)
As the demand continues for improvements in the infection prevention and control industry for HAIs by regulatory agencies, technologies will be sought after to provide cost effective solutions that make surface disinfection faster and more comprehensive. Electrostatic application is one of the technologies that has emerged as a viable solution due to its ability to apply water-soluble chemistry (established efficacy through EPA labeling).
The main challenge for facilities is time, appropriate usage of technology, ongoing educational training for their staff on implementation of procedures and protocols. (Lyles, 2016)
In order for the industry to reach the goals set forth by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for reimbursement of care, a compliant cleaning and disinfecting program of environmental surfaces is necessary. Proper cleaning and disinfecting of environmental surfaces is a proven defense against the spread of infection. Using electrostatic infection control systems in conjunction with standardized protocols and procedures for proper surface disinfection can help meet these challenges.
Electrostatic application systems provide the end user with the ability to solve many of the problems that are present in current methods of disinfection. They reduce the time needed for proper disinfection, provide comprehensive coverage, use less disinfectant, and are easy to operate and maintain.
The infection prevention and control industry is searching for a viable solution to the threats posed by pathogens. The use of electrostatic application systems, combined with proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures, may be a viable solution.
Ebron, T. (2014). Screening Study of the E-Mist Electro-Static Sprayer. Euless: MicroChem Laboratory.
Electrostatics. (2016, April 21). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/electrostatics
Laryea, G. N. and No, S.Y. (2004). Electrostatic Spray and Atomization for Agricultural Applications. Atomization, 14:33-53.
Laryea, G. N. and No, S.Y. (2005). Effect of Fan Speed and Electrostatic Charge on Deposition of Orchard Canopy Sprays, Atomization Sprays, 15: 133-144
Matthews, G.A. 1992. Pesticide Application Methods, 2nd Ed., Longman Singapore Publishers(Pte) Ltd, Singapore.
Lyles, R. (2016, January 1). Infection Control Today. (K. M. Pyrek, Interviewer)
Sutton, J. (2015). Decontaminating the OR Environment utilizing Persistant Technology. American Journal of Infection Control, 2-117.
Blake, G. and Whiteley, B. (2015). Best Practices as it relates to E-Mist system. Case Study for CSNHC.
Kramer, A. I. (2006, August 16). BioMed Central Open Access Publisher. Retrieved from Biomedcentral.com: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/6/130