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Health And Safety
JEMS, Journal of Emergency Medical Services
Hydroxyl generators kill germs & snuff odors


An Odorox® .Slimline. model portable hydroxyl generator sanitizes this ambulance. Photo Thom Dick
FEATURED IN HEALTH AND SAFETY
We've talked about cooties before, Life-Saver. Nothing is scarier than some of the stuff you can't even see.
Fortunately, our bodies came equipped with an incredible array of weapons to protect us from sick people's diseases.

I can't find any studies that say so, but I don't think EMS providers get sick as often as most other people. If that's true, I suspect it's because we're exposed to so much disease on a regular basis that we're somewhat immune to it. I've always been impressed by that (and have always been grateful for it.) But I still think we'd be a lot safer if somebody could devise a surefire way to sanitize an ambulance without taking it apart.
In the March 2005 installment of this column, I discussed numerous ways EMS providers could minimize their exposure to disease. I suggested everything from leaving their boots at work to routinely cleaning door handles, stretchers, ceiling hardware and radio mics with contact cleaner. I've also talked about such practices as hand-washing, ditching exam gloves before driving, removing the floor hardware to address substances that accumulate there and not eating in ambulances.
I do brag some about my agency's crews. I hope you understand I love 'em to death. If you ever come and ride with us, you'll see why in about a second. Not only are they fine caregivers, but they also have hearts the size of toasters. If we were to lose just one of them, all of EMS would be damaged. Their families expect us to keep them safe, and we try hard to do that.
One of our first responders is an EMT named Chris Forbes. Chris is a lieutenant with our fire department here in Brighton, Colo., and he's a part-time distributor of gizmos called hydroxyl generators. Hydroxyl ions are unstable, negatively charged molecules that oxidize single-celled organisms, and thereby, destroy them. Chris showed us a device the size of a briefcase that's designed to produce and circulate hydroxyls throughout a closed environment about the size of a small house (2,000 square feet). We bought it (for about $2,800). When we take an ambulance out of service for maintenance, and before we give it back to a crew, we plug the device into the unit's 110VAC shoreline circuit and run it in the patient compartment for 24 hours with all the doors and windows closed.

We're pretty small-time, and we serve a poor district, so we don't have a lot of money for science. We've found no reference to anybody using hydroxyl generators in ambulances. But the independent lab reports we've read say that in structures, this device destroys more than 99.9% of airborne, surface and contained anthrax, Clostridium difficile, Escherichia coli, influenza A, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogenes, MRSA, Staph aureus, molds and their spores, and tuberculosis bacilli on stainless steel and cotton fabric surfaces during a single 12-hour exposure.(1Ð3)
We also know from experience that it eliminates biologic and non-biologic odorsÑincluding emesis, blood, smoke and ethanolÑand produces no odors of its own.
They're commonly installed in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems of public buildings, especially in humid areas, and they're routinely used to purify structures after flooding. Fire departments use them to sanitize turnout gear.
How do these things work? Ours contains a fan that draws .dirty. air through a multiple-wavelength ultraviolet chamber, then exhausts it as clean airÑalong with hydroxyl ionsÑback into the environment. Hydroxyls occur naturally in sunlight. Although they're deadly to one-celled organisms, they're harmless to people and animals. Likewise, tests prove they break down airborne aldehydes, ozone, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.(4)
According to Chris, you can actually get these things in much smaller sizes, designed for permanent mounting in an ambulance, for about $500. That would spread the cost of one over the span of a lease, or the life of a vehicle. JEMS - Journal of Emergency Medical Services
References

JEMS is a Premier Media Partner of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

JEMS

To Whom It May Concern:

This past holiday season, I experienced significant smoke damage in my home from an electrical malfunction in my oven, which occurred when running the oven cleaning cycle on a timer in the middle of the night?it appeared that the thermostat had stopped working, and the oven temperature just kept rising and rising. When the smoke detectors went off, I wakened and opened my bedroom door on the second floor and saw nothing but smoke in the hallway?I could not even see downstairs. There were no flames, just heavy smoke.

The smoke had traveled throughout the first and second floor of my home. A strong odor was detected in the air, and it went into all the closets on both floors, affecting most of the clothing in them. I opened the windows in the home to get cross ventilation and waited outside until sufficient smoke at exited so I could go back into my home. At that point, what remained was a foul odor from the smoke, which was from the protein in the oven as well as some of the plastic surrounding the oven.

The next day, when I went to a meeting, several people in the meeting noticed the smoke odor on my clothing and asked if I had been in a fire. This was an uncomfortable situation to say the least, as I was expecting to host family during the holiday season, not to mention the embarrassment experienced in client meetings. Anxious to remedy the odor problem I contacted Odorox Air Technologies (OAT) in Basking Ridge NJ to see if their Odorox equipment might be able to help my situation.

The guys contacted a local Paul Davis restoration firm, who agreed to operate the Odorox hydroxyl generators at my home to assist in the clean up. Felipe Rodriguez ("Phil") from Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling followed the instructions given to him by Odorox personnel, and in a matter of just a few days successfully removed the smoke odor from my house (most of it had dissipated after just one day). Paul Davis had installed three of the Odorox machines on the two floors as well as a number of fans to move the air through the house.

Besides the obvious benefit of eliminating the smoke smell, I appreciated not having to leave my home during the clean up process?that is because the clean-up process does not use any ozone, which would not have been safe to be around..

It also was interesting to note that the local Maryland Paul Davis folks, having not heard of this hydroxyl technology, were very skeptical of its ability to work. When they came and installed the equipment (shipped to them by Emerald), they said that they could come back the next day with their own equipment to take out the smoke that the Odorox equipment didn't do. When they came back the next day, they were truly amazed at how quickly most of the odors had already been removed much faster than through their more traditional methods they became believers literally overnight. And given that this technology did not require that I vacate my home and dry clean my clothing, treat carpet, etc., they were more than impressed.

Unrelated to the smoke damage, Phil found some mold in my basement (it was from a water leak a few months earlier). I had mentioned that the Odorox equipment could kill the mold spores as well. So once the smoke cleanup was done, and following consultation with the Odorox personnel, I moved one of the Odorox units on the job to my basement to deal with the mold. I am pleased to report the mold is gone with the help of the Odorox and additional clean-up from the restoration crew.

As a business owner and building professional who works with commercial and institutional facilities managers facing odor, mold and other indoor air quality issues threatening their companies, I can say with a great deal of confidence that the Odorox hydroxyl technology will eliminate these types of problems faster and with less disruption and at a lower cost than other previously available means. A big thanks to Odorox!

Sincerely,

Peter S. Kimmel, AIA, IFMA Fellow
Publisher, FMLink


Publisher, FMLink

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