Should you use a fogging machine for COVID-19 decontamination? No, says this CIRI technical document

by Brianna Crandall — June 5, 2020 — The Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI), a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and dissemination of unbiased, peer-reviewed research for the professional cleaning and disaster restoration industries, has just issued its official guidance document for the cleaning and decontamination of hard surfaces in non-healthcare environments from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. The document addresses such equipment as fogging machines and UV devices.

Developed by CIRI’s Science Advisory Committee members, “Guidance for Decontamination of the Built Environment: Cleaning, Disinfection, Worker Protection, and Post Cleaning and Remediation Assessment” provides an overview of what’s known about COVID-19, including its biology, epidemiology, pathology and current modes of transmission.

Using this framework, the authors use peer-reviewed research to outline recommendations around health-based cleaning and disinfection practices.

John Downey, executive director, CIRI, stated:

In the absence of a governing standard to direct cleaning protocols, this Guidance is designed to provide cleaning professionals with easily identifiable best practices for cleaning and disinfection during the pandemic. It is our hope that organizations throughout the cleaning and disaster restoration industries use this heavily sourced, science-based Guidance to inform their cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Within the guidance, cleaning and restoration professionals will find best practices and resources around the following areas of their custodial or remediation operation:

  • Worker protection
  • Decontamination
  • Cleaning
  • Disinfection
  • Post-cleaning assessments and measurement

Of specific note, the Guidance advises against the use of chemical germicide misting or fogging machines as an effective means of disinfection. Researchers cite a 2013 letter written by Steven Bradbury, PhD, Director of the US EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. The letter highlights issues with the efficacy of the application method.

The Guidance does say that modern ultraviolet (UV) radiation or vaporized biocide treatment devices can be useful, particularly after regular manual cleaning in healthcare environments.

Downey continued:

With so many claims being made around certain cleaning products and practices, it’s more important than ever that we start with sound, documented science as a basis for our cleaning programs. From gyms to hotels, schools to retail shops, people want to know that it’s safe to visit indoor spaces as communities begin to reopen. Using science to inform our cleaning protocols will help us ensure this.

Guidance for Decontamination of the Built Environment: Cleaning, Disinfection, Worker Protection, and Post Cleaning and Remediation Assessment” is available free of charge on the CIRI website.

The 2020 CIRI Science Symposium, a full-day full-day (8-hour) session of academic presentations and research presented around cleaning for COVID-19 and coronavirus originally recorded on March 31, 2020, is also available. The Symposium is broken down into three sessions that focus on communications, testing and assessment, and strategies for worker training, safety and pandemic preparedness.

Continuing education credits (CECs) are available through a post-symposium exam for individuals looking to maintain certifications through Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), ISSA and the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC).

CIRI is an independent and impartial institute focused on cleaning and building maintenance research to improve cleaning and restoration outcomes and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for all indoor environments. CIRI serves the dual purpose of serving both the “public good” as well as the cleaning and restoration industries, and works with all leading industry groups.