The Use of Antimicrobials
"Antimicrobials are substances utilized for
the destruction or growth suppression of harmful microorganisms
whether they are bacteria, viruses, or fungi."
The use of antimicrobials is often confusing and misunderstood
by most individuals. It is often thought a "magic
bullet" solution exists that can be easily applied
to destroy all of the harmful microorganisms that develop
as a result of water damage and mold growth. Because
of this way of thinking, professional restoration firms
must realize that there is an apparent misconception
between what the customer is expecting and what the
reality of the treatment is.
Antimicrobials are substances utilized for the destruction
or growth suppression of harmful microorganisms whether
they are bacteria, viruses, or fungi. These antimicrobials
are registered and regulated by the United States Environmental
Protection Agency under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide
and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Some states actually require
the users of these products to be licensed pesticide
applicators. A professional restoration company will
comply with all of the necessary training, safety, and
licensing requirements as a result of FIFRA.
A professional restoration specialist will realize
that a number of limitations exist in the use of antimicrobials.
Effective training and proper supervision of employees
handling these products must be consistent and continuous.
Label instructions must be followed as written. This
applies to methods of application and what it can be
applied to. Dwell times must be allowed for. Application
details should be properly documented.
Safety is always a top priority of a professional restoration
company. Safety for the employee, safety for the occupants
of the structure, and safety for anyone entering the
structure must be considered. There are some potential
risks when utilizing antimicrobials. These products
are classified as a biocide, which references a "life
killer". Professional restorers will consider if
the occupants are very young, elderly, unhealthy or
sick in general. The potential hazards and benefits
must be discussed with the customer, and a written,
informed consent should be obtained prior to the product's
application. It may be necessary to ask the occupants
of the structure to vacate the premises during the application
of antimicrobials. Professional restoration technicians
will be able to appropriately assess the circumstances
and be able to make sure that all individuals are protected.
The effectiveness of antimicrobials will vary by product.
Label claims will include activity against groups such
bactericide, fungicide, virucide, tuberculocide, and
sporicide. Some products may have special use claims
against specific microbes, such as Legionella pneumophila,
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Aspergillus fumigatus, Hepatitis
or HIV. A professional restoration company will refrain
from making statements or repre-sentations to a customer
beyond what is on the label of the product.
Material Safety Data Sheets are available from the professional
restoration company and can be made readily available
to the homeowner. If the homeowner has concerns, the
restoration professional will direct the homeowner to
discuss the use of these products with their doctor.
The use of antimicrobials is not recommended in the
restoration of indoor water-damaged or microbial-contaminated
environments, unless the source has been determined
to be contaminated. Effective remediation of water-damaged
buildings should employ the use of appropriate rapid
drying techniques and/or complete removal of contaminated
materials through detailed cleaning or demolition and
appropriate disposal of materials. Because of this,
the application of an antimicrobial will actually serve
no purpose that could not be accomplished with a detergent
solution. A professional restoration specialist will
know when to apply and when it is not necessary to apply
these products. When the source of the water damage
is determined to be "black water," a significant
health risk may be present from a variety of infectious
agents. The use of antimicrobials in this situation
will be utilized to help reduce and control microorganisms
from the environment to assist in achieving safe levels
as determined by public health standards.
Professional restoration companies like PuroClean Home
Rescue will have the necessary training to know when
to use antimicrobial products. They will know that the
use of antimicrobials is not always automatic, but an
appropriate evaluation of the benefits or hazards should
always be conducted.