Reducing Surface and Airborne Bacteria
Bacteria Fun Fact

Remember to Stay Vigilant on Reducing Surface and Airborne Bacteria

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we clean and sanitize commercial, educational, and public spaces. The Centers for Disease Control has released extensive guidelines for the safe cleaning and disinfecting of hard and soft surfaces, electronics, laundry, outdoor areas, and other parts of a facility. The Environmental Protection Agency also provides a full list of disinfectants known to kill the novel coronavirus, such as hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and disinfecting wipes and sprays.

Despite the increased attention given to virus mitigation in recent months, commercial facilities should not overlook the dangers of bacteria. According to a recent workplace microbial survey, the average employee touches up to 30 objects a day that may be contaminated by bacteria or viruses. Surfaces are not the only platforms for bacteria to grow and spread. Harmful bacteria can even linger in the air due to poor HVAC and coil cleaning.

Common Bacteria in the Workplace

Pseudomonas

Pseudomonas are one of the most common types of bacteria found in commercial facilities. These germs can cling to the skin, soil, or items in the environment such as keyboards, pens, doorknobs, and other surfaces. They are one of the top causes of infections in the ears, eyes, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract.

Staphylococcus

Commonly found on the skin or in the nose, staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that can cause a myriad of diseases. Staph is often present on commonly touched workplace surfaces such as utensils and can be transmitted through human contact, the environment, or contaminated food.

Streptococcus

Often referred to as strep, streptococcus is known to cause infections like strep throat, impetigo, and cellulitis (Group A), as well as meningitis, pneumonia, and blood infections (Group B). These microorganisms can be spread through infected airborne droplets released when sneezing or coughing and inhaled by others. Droplets can also contaminate workplace objects and surfaces.

Best Practices for Reducing Bacteria

  1. Identify and clean main contact points or “hot spots” in the facility
  2. Encourage proper handwashing techniques.
  3. Use proper cleaning and disinfecting products.
  4. Develop an outbreak preparedness procedure.
  5. Implement a cleaning schedule that promotes frequent sanitation.

Focus on HVAC and Coil Cleaning

Microbial growth in a commercial HVAC system can reduce energy efficiency and possibly contaminate the air in the building. Routine preventive maintenance is crucial for maintaining the efficiency and cleanliness of air handlers. Regular HVAC coil cleaning helps prevent microbial growth and the buildup of other potentially harmful contaminants.

Airborne bacteria are capable of causing serious infections when ingested, inhaled, or when hazardous microbes come into contact with skin. Some of the most common conditions caused by airborne bacteria include whooping cough, pneumonia, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and meningitis. Deep cleaning of heating, ventilation, and cooling equipment can help eliminate bacteria and allow the HVAC system to work more efficiently.

Properly cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched public surfaces as well as commercial HVAC units is essential to workplace health. Proper products and a routine schedule for disinfecting will greatly reduce the chances of contamination due to an overgrowth of bacteria. While virus mitigation should still be seriously considered, remember to properly clean and disinfect for bacteria to maintain a clean and healthy workplace.