Home' Inclean : INCLEAN May-Jun 2015 Contents 28 INCLEAN May/June 2015
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LARGEST RANGE OF ORBITAL SCRUBBERS
and increased worker and student productivity. But surely topping this
list of valuable aspects of cleaning is the critical role cleaning plays
in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases and otherwise
protecting human health.
Stated simply, a relatively modest investment in an effective
cleaning and hygiene program can help avoid or significantly
reduce the health and economic impacts of infectious diseases.
To best appreciate the value of clean in the realm of infection
prevention, it is helpful to consider the costs associated with the
transmission of various environmental pathogens. Consider influenza,
a.k.a. ‘the common’ flu, for example.
Seasonal influenza in the United States alone is estimated to impose,
on average, an economic burden of US$87 billion a year. Of this
amount, more than US $16 billion is attributed to lost earnings
and productivity associated with ill employees. Direct medical
costs account for another US$10 billion per year of this total. In
addition, the common flu results in 3.1 million hospitalised days and
31.4 million outpatient visits per year (Source: The Annual Impact of
Seasonal Influenza in the U.S.: Measuring Disease Burden and Costs, Science
Digest, Vaccine 25, 2007).
Of course, there are other infectious diseases of concern, such
as Clostridium difficile (C. diff). The rate of C. diff health care
associated infections (HAIs) has nearly doubled in the last 10 years
to today, where it accounts for 12 percent of all HAIs. The direct
medical costs associated with C. diff in the United States are
between US$6,000 and US$9,000 per infection, or a total estimate
of US$1 billion to US$1.6 billion in medical costs annually. Further
cost pressures are being imposed upon health care facilities given
Medicare’s recent decision to no longer reimburse hospitals for HAIs.
When we look at the universe of infectious diseases that we contend
with today – MRSA, Norovirus, Enterovirus D68, and even Ebola – it
is apparent that the collective economic costs and the toll on human
suffering associated with these diseases are substantial. It is in this
context that we can best appreciate the value of clean as truly our first
and front – line of defense.
This dimension of cleaning’s value proposition has been studied at
length. Consider a New York University Langone Medical Center
study cited in ISSA’s Value of Clean white paper (www.issa.com/value),
where enhanced cleaning practices and a hand hygiene program were
directly responsible for averting 85 cases of C. diff, resulting in an
estimated savings of US$413,000 in direct hospital costs.
In another study cited in the paper, this one conducted in the Mt. Sinai
Medical Center, improved cleaning products and practices along with
employee training resulted in a 57 percent reduction in C. diff infection
rates and a commensurate reduction in custodial worker injuries.
These principles of cleaning for infection prevention that have
worked to significantly reduce the rate of HAIs apply to institutional
facilities overall, including office buildings, schools, daycare centers,
and retirement homes.
Before fully realising the degree to which an effective cleaning and
hygiene program can reduce the transmission of environmental
pathogens, it is important to first briefly explore how infectious
diseases are spread.
Infectious diseases are generally spread through harmful
microorganisms or environmental pathogens, such as viruses,
bacteria, fungi, etc., via direct person-to-person contact with an
infected individual or by touching objects contaminated by infected
individuals, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, and other
frequently touched surfaces. These germs are then transmitted from
the hands to the nose, mouth, or eyes.
Effective cleaning and disinfecting of environmental surfaces,
including ‘high touch’ or frequently touched surfaces, significantly
decreases the number of environmental pathogens on those surfaces,
which in turn, reduces the risk of transmission and infection.
Routine cleaning removes the soil and dirt that harbors the
infectious agents while disinfecting kills the remaining environmental
pathogens. Likewise, a hand hygiene program – including proper
hand washing procedures (see below) – significantly reduces the germs
present on a person’s hands, with a consequent reduction in the risk of
Cleaning and disinfecting practices
The following cleaning and disinfection practices are recommended
to help prevent the spread of the flu, common cold, and other
1. Clean. Do not underestimate the power of simply cleaning to
reduce the risk of transmitting germs. Cleaning removes dirt, soil, and
impurities that harbor germs and viruses like influenza. Thus, routine
cleaning plays a critical role in reducing the spread of flu and other
diseases. Cleaning also is often a necessary first step in disinfecting,
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