COVID Ventilation & Cleaning

As we move into our third year of COVID-19, we have learned a lot about the virus and how to best protect ourselves. As researchers have confirmed, the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much higher for airborne transmission than in surface transmission. In fact, a professor at Michigan Public Health estimates that surface transmission is 1,000 times lower. While this alleviates some fear, cleaning and disinfecting properly are still important in curbing the spread of illnesses, especially on high-touch surfaces such as door knobs and handles. Since 2020, more resources and studies have become available that alleviate some of the uncertainty we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic. Read our updated cleaning recommendations, based off of CDC guidelines, that will help you safely disinfect your business without needing to compromise your health and environmental impact.

Safer Cleaning Products Work
It is a common misconception that “green cleaning” products do not work as well as “conventional” ones. We are here to reassure you, if you are using products with the correct active ingredients as directed, they are just as effective as conventional products. They are also safer for you, your employees, and your customers to be around. Selecting CAGBN permitted cleaning products also allows you to use less harmful chemicals that can leach into the environment.

Clean before disinfecting
The CDC recommends always cleaning with soap and water prior to using disinfectants. This ensures that there is less debris interfering with the disinfectant’s efficacy. For more information on how to properly clean different types of surfaces within your business or facility, check out the CDC’s guidelines here. One of CAGBN’s core Green Business Practices is to use cleaning products (including anything from hand soap to all-purpose cleaner) that are either GreenSeal, EPA Safer Choice, or EWG rated ‘B’ or higher.  This ensures less environmental and health implications than traditional products.

CAGBN recommends businesses to use the least harmful products in the lowest quantity possible in order to disinfect facilities. While we require our Certified Green Businesses to use hydrogen peroxide-based products rather than those that contain bleach, other safer cleaning products are available with active ingredients such as citric acid, lactic acid, ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol or just alcohol), isopropyl alcohol, peroxyacetic acid, or hypochlorous acid. *Note: Green Seal reminds us that “The combination of hydrogen peroxide and peroxyacetic acid is a designated AOEC asthmagen, so avoid products that contain both.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came out with the List N Tool database of products that meets their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Although this comprehensive database can be helpful, especially if you are looking for more specialized disinfectants, it can be a bit overwhelming for some to navigate. If you find this to be the case for you, we recommend checking out the abbreviated list of less environmentally harmful products from Green Seal, all of which are also included in the EPA database. And a reminder: always use products as directed by the manufacturer printed on the label.

Keep your business well ventilated
Now that we know more about COVID-19 transmission, we know that it can be transmitted through direct contact as well as via airborne transmission. No matter how much you disinfect your business, it will not help to stop airborne transmission. Businesses can keep employees safer by ensuring your facility is well ventilated and your HVAC system is properly maintained. Below are some suggestions provided by the CDC (find their full list of recommendations here):

  • Encourage outdoor air in your facility: Open windows and doors, as weather allows, to allow for natural air flow.
  • Circulate indoor air with fans: In combination with open windows, add fans in strategically placed locations to increase ventilation. FAQs on this here
  • Optimize central air filtration: Make sure your HVAC filters are regularly changed (at least twice per year)
  • Use portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to enhance air cleaning

Go Above and Beyond Cleaning
Cleaning and disinfecting your business can help protect you and your employees from COVID-19, but cannot prevent it altogether. That being said, there are things you can do to help prevent the spread of any illness. Here are some additional suggestions to help keep your employees healthy:

  • Although mask mandates and social distancing restrictions have been lifted, many people will still choose to wear a mask to protect themselves or an immunocompromised loved one. Provide surgical masks for employees and customers, and communicate to your employees that those who choose to wear a mask will be supported by your company.
  • Continue to encourage standard health precautions. Hang signs in your bathrooms to remind people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, and to cover their coughs and sneezes.
  • Expand sick leave for your employees and encourage them to stay home if feeling ill. Invest in equipment that allows employees to work from home if possible.
  • Provide vaccination clinics for your employees at your place of business. Many people can’t take time off to get a flu or Covid vaccine. Hosting a vaccine clinic at your place of business makes it easy for your employees to get vaccinated, and will save your company money in the long run by ensuring employees stay healthy. Contact your health care representative to see if this is an option for your business.
  • Keep up to date with the CDC’s current health and prevention guidelines and recommendations.

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