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How will you effectively disinfect your treatment room when you’re back to work? An affordable solution.

The Coronavirus has certainly thrown our industry into a tailspin and after several months of ‘sheltering-in-place,’ many of us are eager to go back to work. Most states are instituting a phased strategy for reopening, so now is the time to think about what our workspace will look like when we return to our salons & spas. Increased sanitation and disinfection between clients, increased use of PPE including face shields or goggles, masks (do we use surgical or n95 – can we even GET n95!?) and gloves, changing to using more disposables (disposable sheets, towels, spa equipment which means more trash generated), wearing lab coats, foot covers, and the list goes on….

I am very interested in how to thoroughly disinfect our treatment rooms, and in particular the air in our treatment rooms. I watched a video on droplet transmission a few days ago and it really concerns me that one cough could spread microdroplets around a room the size of a classroom in 20 minutes. Imagine what that means for our salon and spa environment, and how much easier spread will occur in our workspaces! (You can fast forward to 3:00 to see this simulation, but I found the entire video very interesting.) This video has since brought me down a rabbit hole of viruses, bacteria, DNA, RNA, Spaulding classification, Baltimore scale, bioaerosols, fluence, Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) and most importantly, the difference between the cheap $100 – $150 Ultraviolet devices you see on Amazon and eBay and honest-to-goodness UVGI disinfecting units that are made in an ISO 9001:2015 / ISO 14001:2015, EPA registered manufacturing facility with CE & ETL marks and are 100% made in the USA!!! There is a HUGE difference… Let me take you on my journey of research and discovery!

You need to know your enemy in order to fight it.

First – some background… Viruses range in size from 20 – 400 nanometers in diameter (a nanometer is .00001 millimeter). In contrast, the smallest bacteria are about 400 nm and the larger bacteria are 10,000 nanometers (0.0004 mm – 0.01 mm) in size. Viruses are so small that they can only be seen with a scanning electron microscope. Most viruses have either RNA or DNA as their genetic material and the entire individual virus particle is called a virion (the viral equivalent of a cell) and consists of the nucleic acid and an outer protein shell, called a capsid. In some viruses, the capsid is surrounded by a fatty membrane called an envelope.

Coronaviruses, in general, are large, enveloped viruses. The outer, fatty layer (or ‘envelope’) usually appears spherical, as seen under an electron microscope, with a crown or ‘corona’ of club-shaped spikes on their surface. The SARS-CoV-2 virus, in particular, is 65 – 120 nm in diameter containing extraordinarily large single-stranded RNA genomes – approximately 26,000 to 32,000 bases or RNA “letters” in length.

SARS-CoV-2 virus aka ‘novel coronavirus’ that causes the disease COVID-19

Ok – enough geek-speak! Why does it matter how big a virus is before we can know how to effectively disinfect our rooms? Let’s start by refreshing ourselves on the difference between sterilization, disinfection & sanitation – because those terms matter when dealing with viruses and bacteria!

Sterilization refers to any process that eliminates, removes, kills, or deactivates all forms of life, in particular referring to microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, spores, etc… Sterilization can be achieved through heat, chemicals, irradiation, high-pressure, and filtration. Sterilization is distinct from disinfection and sanitization, in that those methods reduce rather than eliminate all forms of life and biological agents present.

Sanitation, also known as cleaning, reduces the overall number of microbes on a surface by removing visible contamination and debris. In the United States, sanitizers are agents that destroy 99.999 percent of bacteria in 30 seconds during the Official Detergent Sanitizer Test (a public health test). Notice how there is no mention of viruses or fungi here…

On the other hand, Disinfection destroys all organisms in 10 minutes during the AOAC Use Dilution Test, a test regulated by the EPA to determine the efficiency of disinfectants. In a hospital situation, it’s more important to kill all pathogens even if it takes longer rather than to kill most of them quickly. Disinfection leaves a surface highly unlikely to transmit infection or cause disease. Disinfection is only for non-living surfaces because disinfectants are damaging to living skin and may lead to irritation or allergic reactions.

As salon & spa professionals we are required to use an EPA registered, hospital-grade disinfectant with virucidal, bactericidal, tuberculocidal & fungicidal properties on all surfaces. Please note: It is VITALLY important that you read and adhere to the instructions listed on the back of your surface disinfectant bottle. Every single one of them is different! I recommend making sure your disinfectant is on the list of EPA registered disinfectants specific to coronavirus. You can find that list here.

Well, that’s all good and fine – but how do we disinfect the air? Do I just start spraying my EPA registered disinfectant in the air between clients?

Absolutely not! In order to properly address this question, we need to know a little bit about bioaerosols, droplet size, and viral spread. Bioaerosols (short for biological aerosols) are airborne bacteria, fungi, pollen & viruses that range in size from 10 nanometers (0.00001 millimeters) to 100 micrometers (0.1 millimeters). From a health perspective, these bioaerosols may be transmitted through the air for significant distances during a cough, sneeze, or even through speech & breathing. Because of their small size viruses are very easily aerosolized, which causes them to remain suspended in the air and travel longer distances than pollen, bacteria, and fungal spores. One simulation demonstrated that viral bioaerosols could travel for 200,000 kilometers (!!) while a fungal spore could only travel 150 meters.

Of particular interest to those of us that work in a salon or spa or a healthcare field, one study of a cough-generated aerosol in a simulated medical examination room showed that the particles spread rapidly throughout the room and that within 5 minutes a worker anywhere in the room would be exposed!!!

Respiratory droplets range in size from ‘large-particles’ that are greater than 5 micrometers (or 0.005 millimeters) in diameter to ‘small-particles’ which are small than or equal to 5 micrometers in diameter. One study of influenza patients during the H1N1 pandemic showed that patients produced bioaerosols that contained influenza virus RNA while coughing and that much of this RNA was contained in small respirable aerosol particles less than 4 micrometers in size. A cough or sneeze can generate large amounts of aerosol particles and propel them 6 feet or more. Large particles fall quickly to the ground, while smaller particles remain suspended in the air as infectious bioaerosols. Talking and breathing also contribute to the number of bioaerosols in the air.

You should also be aware – as we have seen on the interwebs lately, wearing a surgical or cloth mask does very little to protect us from getting respiratory droplets on us from someone else’s cough, sneeze or breath; it is more preventative in keeping others from getting our respiratory droplets on them. In order to be adequately protected from your clients’ respiratory droplets, we’ll need to wear an n95 mask and eye protection or a full face shield while face to face and working with our clients.

Holy Hell. Do you know what this means?!?!?! This means that not only are we at risk of getting an aerosolized infection from our treatment rooms but so are ALL OF OUR CLIENTS – THEY WILL BE ABLE TO INFECT EACH OTHER!!! If respiratory bioaerosols are dispersed within our treatment rooms with one client and are still in the air when our next client comes in – that is definitely no bueno!

So, what is the solution to disinfecting our air?

Fortunately, environmental exposure to bioaerosols can be reduced through a combination of air-cleaning technologies, such as filtration, ventilation dilution, airflow direction, and deactivation with negative-air ionization or UVGI (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation).

Filtration systems physically remove contaminants from indoor air and can be installed in the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system or in a portable filtration unit. There are also portable air filtration units, but their benefits are not as well established as fixed filtration units. I personally think we should all include a portable HEPA filtration unit in our air disinfection plans, but I wouldn’t count on that as our primary method of disinfection. Keep scrolling to see a unit that offers the results of HEPA filtration AND UVGI in one unit!

Ventilation dilution of indoor air is an effective way to reduce contaminant levels, but that’s not always practical in the salon & spa environment as we are trying to keep our rooms clean and dust-free! And we often don’t have windows that we can even open! But, as often as you can, I would recommend airing out your room with a fan in an open window or blowing out of the door to draw airflow outside of your treatment room. But in no way does this substitute for an actual air disinfection plan in your salon or spa.

Bioaerosols are able to be deactivated (meaning they will no longer be infectious) through negative-air ionization and with UVGI (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation).

Negative-air ionizers generate negative-air ions that collide with bioaerosols and charge the bioaerosol surface. The charged bioaerosols tend to aggregate and fall from the air as a result of their weight, which is greater than that of the original bioaerosols. One of the disadvantages of ionizers is that they typically emit ozone, which is a powerful oxidant and may seriously harm our health by long-term and/or high-dose exposure. According to a quick Wikipedia search ‘when inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections’. In my opinion, unless you are able to use a negative-air ionizer that doesn’t emit ozone I wouldn’t use one.

Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) systems, with a specific wavelength of 254 nanometers (this is in the band of UVC), are used to disinfect indoor air in portable units, upper-room systems, and HVAC systems. Their efficacy depends on the susceptibility of the bioaerosol which is affected by relative humidity (RH), temperature, coating, and the groups of microorganisms) and the fluence (UV dose), which is a factor of irradiation intensity and time of exposure. UVC radiation is harmful to the human body (skin & eyes), pets, and plants, so the disinfection unit should be arranged such that no person is inadvertently exposed directly to the light. This means you CAN NOT use the cheap UV disinfection systems you’re seeing on eBay and Amazon while you are with your client! You’ll only be able to use them in between clients, and with a 30 – 60 minute disinfection time you are severely decreasing the number of clients you will be able to see in a day.

There ARE systems that can be installed in HVAC ducts or on ceilings or walls, so as to direct the light upwards and not towards anyone in the room. This is called an ‘upper-room’ UVGI unit. These units are able to be used while you are in the room with your client, but they are NOT mobile!

What we need is a unit that is safe to use at the same time you are seeing your client, and that is portable in case you want to move it between rooms. In addition, it is important that you purchase a unit that has the correct fluence (UV dose) and has scientific data documenting the efficacy of the unit. This technology is discussed as an infection control strategy in the CDC’s Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.

The IUVA (International Ultraviolet Association) has published Advice for the selection and operation of equipment for the UV disinfection of air and surfaces. Of particular interest to me is their ‘Buyer Beware! – there are few accepted standards for equipment designed for the UV disinfection of air and/or surfaces. As a result, there are many ads and promotions that claim amazing performance with little or no scientific backup’.

That one statement is what has brought me through this rabbit hole of research. Buyer Beware. I am loathed to purchase anything from China, although I will admit – I briefly contemplated it. I mean, they have been dealing with the Coronavirus longer than we have, and they have countless manufacturing facilities, but as you may have noticed by now as a general principle of my business – I don’t sell cheap products that are Made in China!

I have read countless scientific articles, I have spoken to numerous manufacturers of UVGI devices and I have FINALLY found a supplier from the United States that I have decided to work with. They have been in the air filtration business for over 30 years, and they’re not importing devices from another country for resale. Their UVGI units are made in the USA in an ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 and EPA registered establishment, with CE and ETL certification without a 4 – 6 week lead time!!

I introduce you to the Sun-Pure Ultra Sun SP-20C Portable Indoor Air Filtration Device!

Sun-Pure Ultra Sun SP-20C

Isn’t she a beauty!!?? The Sun-Pure Ultra Sun SP-20C is a self-contained multi-stage air purifier that combines filtration, gas adsorption, and UV irradiation in a small, easy-to-move unit that can be safely used while you are working in the room! The SP-20C utilizes 6 stages of air cleaning technology with a 5-micron prefilter, 0.3 micron HEPA filter, 2 levels of gas adsorption, UVC lamp and photocatalytic converter to reduce greater than 99% of airborne contaminants, destroy viruses and bacteria, and improve overall air quality without the use of chemicals or ozone. It’s quiet, with a sound output between 48 – 68 dB – which is approximately between the sound of a babbling brook and someone taking a shower. This has the added benefit of being a white-noise generating device! AND, you won’t need a separate HEPA filter! It comes with a 2-year warranty and the service interval is 1 year for UVC Lamp and Filter replacement.

With a footprint smaller than the Celluma panel (it’s taller, obviously) it will fit easily into any treatment space. It’s 21.5″ wide x 18″ tall x 8″ deep and weighs 23 lbs., so you may even be able to place it on a shelf or on a counter if you have the room. One unit will disinfect up to 1000 square feet, so if your salon or spa is larger you would purchase multiple units. I also really think that each treatment room should have its own SP-20C for maximum protection as there isn’t a lot of air exchange in a closed room.

How much does it cost?

The normal retail price of the SP-20 is $1295.99, but I am offering it at a special rate of $545.00 + $50 shipping. After hours (literally… hours) of research, I really think this is the best device for our industry. It’s everything we need. It’s mobile. It can be used while we are working. It doesn’t release ozone. It’s made in the USA. (Many of the US companies aren’t, by the way…) They can back up their claims of disinfection efficiency. It will safely disinfect up to 1000 square feet and will give you the same results as a HEPA filter with the added benefit of UVGI. If you have a larger space just calculate the square footage and I’ll see if they have a larger unit that will work for you! If not – just purchase multiple units to place around your salon or spa. If you need help deciding how many units are right for your space, just ask!

I am taking orders for these units NOW! Call/text 508-505-4878 or email and I’d be happy to discuss your order and any specifics with you!

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