Buildings are meant to withstand weather. They can deal with rain, wind, snow, and the punishing effects of the sun. But that’s usually only on the outside. It’s a different story on the inside where the presence of water can be problematic as this situation allows for microbial growth that can lead to allergies and infections.
While buildings continue to deal with the presence of water on a day to day basis, the most troubling concern is flooding. We’ve been seeing an increase in the number of floods over the last twenty years, including those known as 100 year floods, which can lead to widespread disasters. Floods are also costly with approximately 2 billion dollars lost each year due to sewer backups (1). In these cases, not only is water a concern, but also sewage, which can hold a variety of pathogens. Once this type of flood happens, there is little that can be done to stop the risk to health.
But the troubles don’t end after the water has receded. Microbes can stick around in the walls, under the floors, and in any porous objects, from cardboard boxes to books to furniture. The real risk to health starts once the water has gone.
The answer to remediate the situation is to replace all the affected objects in the home including the walls and in some cases parts of the framing. However, this does not mean that the risk is eliminated. A proper cleaning of the materials that cannot be replaced, such as outside walls and load-bearing posts and joists, is needed to eliminate the chances for microbial growth.
This presents a challenge to any environmental cleaning company. They need to be sure their cleaning efforts are complete before rebuilding can begin. After all, no one wants to have a complete renovation performed only to find out later they are still dealing with a mold or bacterial problem.
One of the most effective ways to identify lapses in cleaning is through the process of swabbing and culturing. It is simple and cost-effective. However, there are limitations. Swabs can only cover a small amount of area, usually 100 square centimetres. While this can provide an estimation on the effectiveness of cleaning, it cannot provide confidence that the entire surface area, which can be hundreds if not thousands of times larger is safe. The process also requires time to allow the suspected microbes to grow. This can be anywhere from a day to a week. This can increase the cost burden on the company as it waits for assurances the work is done.
In addition to swab and culture, air monitoring can provide information on the presence of potential pathogens including the molds Aspergillus and Stachybotrys, also known as black mold. However, the process of analysis, much like swab and culture, requires expertise. It must be performed and interpreted by a qualified Environmental Services company. In addition, while it can provide perspective on what may be growing in the environment, it does not provide an indication as to where this is occurring.
Both of these methods meet current regulatory/guidelines. However, they do not provide one critical analysis that can lead to anxiety in any owner. They cannot let you see in real time whether surfaces are indeed clean and whether or not there may be hidden areas where microbes can grow.
This is the perfect place for the OptiSolve® PathFinder ® technology. It uses groundbreaking imaging technology with an illuminator spray to make the invisible visible instantly once processed. This will identify any missed areas and hotspots that enable microbial growth. It perfectly complements other analytic tools such as swabbing and air-monitoring and can provide peace of mind that the cleaning is complete.
Image of OptiSolve processes surface showing sevre levels of organic contamination.
The system goes one step further by identifying density using yellow-orange-red colouring to offer even more information on the type of cleaning needed. If there is a mild level of contamination, a simple cleaning may be needed. But if there is significant contamination, the crew is immediately notified that they need to use more rigour in the area. In essence, you can see your way to better cleaning.
As the number of floods and other environmental disasters continues to go up, there is little doubt the amount of remediation work required will increase. Environmental cleaning and environmental engineering monitoring companies need to be sure they offer rapid, effective, and cost-effective remediation that reduce if not eliminate the risk for future microbial contamination and health issues. With the help of OptiSolve® PathFinder® technology, these needs can be met by allowing workers to see the progress in real time and improve the overall result for the client.
Image: Ingram Image Ltd.
Welcome to OptiSolve® and their proprietary PathFinder® technology.
The technology behind PathFinder is an advanced molecular detection system that reveals the presence of biofilms on surfaces. Using a colour-based density gradient calculation system, the image also can tell you how thick the layers happen to be. As you can see in the picture above, three are relatively thin (yellow) but one is quite thick (red) and may shed enough pathogens to cause a recall or outbreak.
The use of PathFinder in a food processing facility offers a simple and effective measure to facilitate precision cleaning and improve sanitation processes in a food processing plant. As the system is entirely portable and does not require any infrastructure additions, testing can be done without requiring any alterations to regular processing timelines. Images can be taken immediately after sanitation as a complementary check of the process effectiveness.
PathFinder can be used as an intermittent auditing tool or it may be used more regularly in cases where raw materials are known to be contaminated – such as raw meats – to provide real-time analysis of the cleaning process. Regardless of the frequency, PathFinder provides an extra assurance that those invisible biofilms can be seen and removed.
In our modern world, we demand a sustained food supply and the food processing industry effectively address that need. Although companies do their best to provide safe foods, there are and will continue to be challenges. OptiSolve’s PathFinder is a valuable addition to every food processing plant as it helps to mitigate these risks and improve the likelihood that the food we buy will not be recalled or make you sick.
To find out more about how OptiSolve can help you make the invisible visible contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.833.765.8300