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School supplies usually mean things like pencils, paper, and books but during a pandemic, there are a few other things on the list such as disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and protective face masks.
Acme Paper & Supply Co., Inc. vice-president Andy Attman not only provides schools with products needed for cleaning but guidance on best practices to keep students and staff safe.
“This is part of what we've been doing for a long time. We do a lot of business in the healthcare industry. So, with COVID, what we've done is taken the expertise with where we work with hospitals with how they put their disinfecting practices and sanitization practices in place, and bring that to the public,” Attman said.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health assistant professor Lesliam Quiros-Alcala described the differences between disinfecting versus sanitizing against a virus.
“Sanitizing refers more to lowering the number of these germs or viruses on surfaces or objects to a safe level as judged by the public health standards or requirements,” Quiros-Alcala said.
“Disinfecting refers more to killing germs on surfaces or objects. It works by applying chemicals such as disinfectants which have been approved for use in order to kill these germs,” Quiros-Alcala added.
Disinfectants are considered pesticides, because they are designed to kill a pest. In the year 2020 that pest is the coronavirus.
“The EPA regulates the claims on pesticide product labels, and EPA registered surface disinfectants are designed to kill viruses at the time they're used,” Quiros-Alcala said.
“BioProtect is a surface protectant. What that means is you put the product down after you disinfected the surface, and now that surface is protected for 60 days. Therefore, if someone sneezes on the surface, it doesn't matter, you've protected that surface,” Attman said.
The EPA has yet to approve BioProtect as a product which can repel the coronavirus for extended periods of time. However, Attman points out it is an EPA registered protectant and inhibitor.
Although, the product does not claim to protect users against disease-causing bacteria, the EPA has approved its claims of providing an invisible microbiostatic coating to inhibit the growth of odor causing bacteria, mold and mildew.
“We supply a full range of products, disinfectants to protectants. A disinfectant highly that we use is the Protexis sprayer with PurTabs. It’s a chemical sprayer combination,” Attman said.
According to the EvaClean website, the company claims its Protexis electrostatic sprayer can reach up to three times more surfaces in the same time it would take to use buckets, rags, and wipes.
“It takes one minute to disinfect a surface. That one minute is key, because a lot of times people don't realize that a disinfectant has a range of one minute to ten minutes to fully disinfect but the surface has to stay wet in that timeframe,” Attman said.
Although the EPA approved label doesn't show PurTabs has been approved yet for use in an electrostatic sprayer -- the product can be found on the EPA list “N” as meeting the Environmental Protection Agency's criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
During this pandemic the EPA is working to rapidly approve cleaning systems.
“The EPA basically started saying we have not approved the use of electrostatic sprayers or foggers yet, but that's not to say that it could change. technologies are changing, the recommendations are changing daily,” Quiros-Alcala said.
The EPA recently just approved a product called SurfaceWise which claims to protect surfaces for seven days.
An EPA spokesperson said it was given emergency approval to be used at two hospitals in Texas and American Airlines.