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Disinfecting is key to stopping spread of coronavirus

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Determining what needs to be cleaned, how areas will be disinfected and what resources and equipment will be needed to clean and disinfect are important steps for protecting individuals from the COVID-19 virus.

Disinfection techniques require pre-cleaning by hand to remove residue and grime. Visibly dirty surfaces should be with soap and water prior to disinfection, as disinfectants are less effective when the surface is visibly soiled.

Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect and discard after use or use reusable gloves that are dedicated only for cleaning and disinfecting. Always wash hands after removing gloves.

Two additional methods of cleaning are fumigation and fogging, which are not as effective as hand wiping and they introduce other hazards to the person doing the fogging, as well as those in the area. Fogging is the process of aerosolizing or vaporizing a chemical onto surfaces to disinfect.

In order for any chemical to be effective, the minimum contact time, or wet time, of the chemical must be met. At Hill, it is difficult to achieve contact times of four to 10 minutes due to the climate.

Caution must be taken before fogging, and it may necessitate respiratory protection or other PPE. Chemicals used must be specifically approved for fogging as some chemicals are corrosive or flammable in this form. For help with a workplace HAZCOM plan or for other questions, contact Bioenvironmental Engineering at 777-4551.

“Several units on Hill AFB have expressed interest in procuring ultraviolet-C devices for the purpose of facility disinfection of SARS-CoV-2,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Hardos, Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight commander. “UV-C is largely ineffective in most workplaces. Surfaces must be smooth and the light must touch them.”

She said cloth, plastic, and even some pitted metal surfaces are not effectively cleaned by UV-C. In addition, UV-C light can lead to skin erythema, skin cancer, photoconjunctivitis, photokeratitis, and cataracts.

Use of UV-C requires strict procedures to protect personnel. For more information, contact Allen Kidner, installation radiation safety officer, at 586-6090 or Bioenvironmental Engineering at 777-4551.

For a list of Environmental Protection Agency approved disinfectants against COVID-19 and the recommended contact times, visit  Read the label to make sure it meets your needs. The label will include safety information and application instructions.

The MDG encourages all base personnel to continue to maintain safe practices such as frequent handwashing, wearing masks, and staying home if you are sick. Maintain social distancing, stay six feet away from others, and reduce sharing of common spaces and frequently touched objects.