During the year of the COVID-19 virus, many new cleaners, disinfectants, and products hit the market with a wide range of sometimes questionable claims. Schools are prime targets for marketing claims since safe return to in-person teaching is a very high priority. Maintenance and Operations decision makers are super busy anyway and are now facing some new choices that sound really good. But are they really good and appropriate for a school setting? Marketing materials usually do not provide a straight answer to this question. We may be tempted to
purchase an expensive product that claims a fast, low labor, and perfect solution, and later realize that some of the old fashioned methods remain more reliable. Since we are also in charge of properly using public funds, a rushed choice may not be the best decision.
Still, we do need to keep our minds open to new, innovative products and solutions. Requesting data from reputable third-party reviewing sources may offer help to deal with this situation, specifically, scientific data that is not full of assumptions or faulty logic, and not based on personal testimonials.
The following quote from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it well. Although this quote/CDC position statement is about one specific tool, it fully applies to all materials and technologies, old and new: “Consumers should request efficacy performance data that qualitatively demonstrates a clear protective benefit under conditions consistent with those for which the consumer is intending to apply the technology”.
“Protective benefit” means not just some assumed improvement or protection, but proven benefits tested in a school or classroom situation.
We also need to pay close attention and avoid overloading the air with hazardous chemicals – disinfectants kill living cells! We do not want to cause more harm than good! And remember that if a little something is good, a lot of it is not necessarily better! Assumptions do not work in health and safety!
Thank you for all the work you do to keep staff and students safe!