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Tucson has declined a request to remove from a city park a 14 foot equestrian state of the prominent Mexican revolutionary Poncho Villa. The statue was presented to Tucson back in 1980 by the government of Mexico (nice to acquire impressive artwork on the cheap....). (Tucson is down the freeway from Phoenix, AZ, where I run a commercial janitorial service.) I much like the idea of keeping the statue, but in this era of removal of public art, it does invite some perhaps uncomfortable comparisons. Villa was a revolutionary (hence, technically a traitor), legally quite similar to our own Lee... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
There's an interesting kerfuffle on disposal of unused medications, from and article by our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management. On the one hand, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strongly discourages the pouring or flushing of pharmaceutical drugs into the sewer system and has issued a new rule banning this practice for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals at health care facilities. Makes sense. There have been many indications that even small doses of medications turning up downstream can impact various critters, and municipal sewage treatment systems are not designed to remove such contaminates. On the other hand, "The U.S. Food and Drug... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
I'm passing along to our commercial janitorial clients a good article from our friends at Cleaning and Maintenance Management, what with it being flu season and all. Besides the obvious locations for hand sanitizers (restrooms and lunchrooms), look at conference rooms, building entrances, sales counters and individual desks - desk surfaces, phones and computer keyboards can harbor lots of pathogens. Management ought also actively promote hand washing and sanitizer usage and, perhaps most important, set the example. Employees out sick or, worse, coming to work to perform inefficiently but to pass pathogens along quite efficiently, is never good for the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Around the end of November, I commented on an outbreak of Legionnaires disease among patients in a hospital; the place had been conserving water by lowering water pressure, and hence velocity, during low use periods, leading to growth of the bacteria. Now comes an article in the Atlantic noting that the bacteria likely inhabiting your shower head (and the rest of your water system), generally pretty good at cementing themselves in place, can be knocked lose by too fast a water flow. They are not generally a problem for folks with robust immune systems, but if inhaled, can cause pneumonia,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
A quick update on the experimental project to remove floating plastic from the "garbage patch" in the Central Pacific. The huge barrier is capturing plastic, as planned, but losing the plastic almost as quickly. Best guess is that the barrier (propelled by wind and waves) is not moving fast enough to keep the plastic corralled. The fix currently contemplated is to enlarge it a bit, to allow for more surface area to be hit by wind and waves. We shall see. Again, as in commercial janitorial - it's a whole lot easier to deal with garbage, or dust, or tracked... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Arizona and California investigators have made arrests in a $16 million recycling fraud scheme. It seems that an Arizona trucking operation, apparently created just for this one operation (but a pretty big one), has for the last several years hauled a good many tons of used beverage containers from Arizona to California, to take advantage of a California program to, in essence, refund deposits on recyclable containers. From the article, in All About Arizona: "Consumers pay an additional beverage fee in California that is either five or ten cents, depending on the container’s size. That fee funds the CRV program... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Commercial janitorial, especially in the Phoenix area, is mostly pretty straightforward. We don't have snow, or mudslides, or hurricanes, or forest fires, so disaster prep is not much on one's radar screen. But we are often the first call in case of a more localized disaster - say, a building fire, flood, mold infestation, disease outbreak, and so on. Thus, a safety check list covering major disaster responses might seem a bit of overkill, but still bring a few points to one's attention. So here's a link to such a list. We also keep a pretty good stock of personal... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
One of the issues NASA has encountered in disinfecting its cleanrooms, and therefore in not sending earthly pathogens into space, is that some critters thrive by eating cleaning products. In addition to ethanol (which some bacteria utilize as their main fuel), "The team found hints that Acinetobacter might also be able to grow on isopropyl alcohol, the main chemical used to wipe clean-room surfaces, and Kleenol 30, the detergent used to scrub the rooms’ floors. Even if they can’t use these substances as energy sources, they can certainly break them down. They can even withstand treatment with hydrogen peroxide, the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Here's a cautionary tale, from the Lacrosse Tribune. Four patients (thus far) have been readmitted due to contacting legionnaires disease while hospitalized for other complaints. Legionnaires is commonly available in water, once you look; it tends to not be an issue at the usual low concentrations, and to those not already compromised, by another condition or by age, but can be fatal once it gets hold of you (that is, your lungs- it gives you pneumonia). The bacteria tend to proliferate in stagnant water. The hospital's mistake? Apparently reducing water flow through the hospital's system, in times of low use... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
A (relatively) low-tech approach to removing space trash is covered in an interesting article in The Verge. There is a whole lot of junk (debris from broken satellites, boosters and so on) orbiting around above our atmosphere. The more that accumulates, the more danger the stuff poses to various satellites and manned missions; even a small particle hitting you at high speed can pack quite a punch, and destroy an expensive piece of equipment. The British satellite uses a big net to capture a given piece of debris; the current experiment is just to see if a net works. Once... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Most of our commercial janitorial customers are beginning to put up their Christmas decorations, particularly lights. So it's perhaps a good time to review safety, and lights, and electricity. Here's a good list of tips from the building maintenance director of Vatterott College. A few of the high points: Don't overload circuits. Unplug before changing bulbs or fuses. Don't leave them on and unattended. Don't secure them with nails or staples (too easy to puncture the insulation). Use wooden of fiberglass ladders, not metal. Keep indoor lights indoors (as in out of the rain). Look for the UL label. And... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
My firm's longtime janitorial client, and my even longer friend (back to when I was in college) Is Doug Whitneybell, a local architect (and a darn good one). Every year, for 39 years, Doug has sponsored a "Turkey Trot", a Thanksgiving morning jog, or walk, or bike. Proceeds benefit the American Diabetes Association. The Diabetes Association recently informed Doug that his is the longest running third-party Diabetes Fundraiser in the nation. And, at a bit over $600,000.00 to date, it has donated more than any other event. We donate a bit most every year. Gives one quite a nice feeling... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
"Germs are literally everywhere in the bathroom and surrounding surfaces and will get onto your hands thereby making the risk of phone contamination even greater. Just visualize, you put your contaminated phone close to your mouth when you make a call, or you touch your phone screen then reach up to rub your eye." The above from an article in All About Arizona News, which happens to cover the phoenix area where we provide commercial janitorial service. Interviewed for the article was our old friend, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist just down the road at the University of Arizona. An... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
In remembrance of our veterans: Two Marine sentries, guarding a gate in Ramadi, Iraq in 2008, looked up to see a blue truck barreling down upon them. In a speech he gave in 2010, General Kelly told their story. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Since the senseless tragedy in Pittsburgh, I've noticed several commenting on, and quoting portions of, George Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, on 18 August 1790. It well expresses the philosophy of our Founders regarding freedom of conscience. What I've not seen remarked on is an elegant turn of phrase in the second paragraph (of the part I've quoted) that I've long admired. Religious "tolerance" was the then enlightened view in much of the Western world, and a much touted virtue. Note Washington's take on "tolerance": "...The citizens of the United States of America have a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
According to a study reported by our friends at CMM, sunlight saps the viability of bacteria in household dust, cutting their reproduction success from 12% to 6.1%. A substantial improvement (for us), but much less than perfect. But note - the article mentions that removal of dust might be the better solution, suggesting vacuuming, dusting with microfiber cloths, and so on. It suggests a backpack vacuum, and a paper bag (not just a cloth bag) so as to catch particles down to about a micron in diameter. Good advice as far as it goes, but a HEPA filter would be... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
In recent weeks, we've seen an outbreak of Ebola in the Congo; civil war and general lawlessness has made combating the outbreak quite difficult for authorities. Here's some thoughts I sent out several years back, during the heavily publicized outbreak in West Africa. Given a more and more connected world, you never know what might turn up on our doorstep. And, in passing, OSHA has recently updated its guidelines, here's a copy. While I certainly do not expect to deal with suspected Ebola cases, or locations containing the pathogen, I've used the crisis as a conversation starter among my staff... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Another little wrinkle on proper hand washing: we ought prefer paper towels to forced air dryers not simply because the air dryers blow pathogens all over heck and gone, to be inhaled by yourself and anyone else handy (no, that was not intended as a pun). The article puts it well: Hand dryers, however, while seemingly quicker and more convenient, literally suck up all of that restroom bacteria and blow it around the restroom and onto one’s just-washed hands—leaving them just as dirty, or even dirtier, than before they were washed. But further, irt seems that the bit of abrasion... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Seems that firms in San Francisco are having trouble finding janitors, and those to staff many other lower paying jobs, because of the lack of affordable housing within a one to two hour commute to the city. One begins to appreciate the severity of the situation when it's noted that many $50,000 "entry level" jobs present the same problem. Doubtless, San Francisco's lack of land for housing is exacerbated by the Pacific, just to its left. But many states and cities - particularly San Francisco and California - have created much of their own problem, with "open space" regulations (areas... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Some time back, a customer asked us about using compostable plastic trash liners at their facility. As we feature a health and environment friendly commercial cleaning program - careful chemical selection and use, indoor air quality Improvement technology, recycling programs - our client base tends to be aware of environmental concerns. Compostable trash bags are available, and they work. Problem is, for them to work, they have eventually to be composted. Landfills in the Phoenix area do not try to compost; the climate is a bit too dry. So there is no upside, environmental or otherwise, to the liners. Further,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
I've posted several times over the years about the benefits of handwashing. We encourage it among our commercial janitors, in conjunction with latex gloves and a pathogen defeating hand lotion. But this is the first I've seen of how to do it properly (you thought it was simple?) 1) Wet your hands under running water (standing water in the basin could be contaminated), and add soap 2) Lather by rubbing your hands, all over (helps lift dirt and pathogens) 3) Scrub for 20 seconds or so (best guess - not much in the way of studies seem available) to remove... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article in The Chronicle about Duke University rearranging their campus janitorial schedule to cover Saturday and Sunday cleaning in dorm restrooms, the library and other facilities used seven days per week. Covering seven day usage facilities with seven day cleaning makes sense; that's what we do. What Duke did to accommodate weekends was to move their cleaning staff to an every two week rotation, with a Saturday and Sunday v.s. Thursday and Friday day off routine. Makes sense on the face of it, but some of the janitorial staff express concerns about meeting family obligations, and keeping weekend-only... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
I noticed that we'd been mentioned in a Facebook post, in a thread on, of all things, psychics. Paul Kenyon, now retired, was for quite a time our operations manager, supervising our commercial cleaners. Here's his note, and the comment that occasioned it: Tom Gleason I called a radio station one time that had a psychic on it...she got on the phone and said, “what’s your name?” I replied with, “you tell me, you’re the psychic.” They cut me off. 🤣 🤣 🤣 1 Manage 15h Paul Kenyon I gotta tell ya a quick story. I was production manager for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Here's another study on restroom surface sanitation reflecting differences in restrooms supplying paper hand towels to their users as opposed to restrooms using jet air dryers; the conclusion: "Multiple examples of significant differences in surface bacterial contamination, including by fecal and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, were observed, with higher levels in JAD versus PT washrooms. Hand-drying method affects the risk of (airborne) dissemination of bacteria in real-world settings." Three European hospitals were tested over a 12 week period, so a good many people, and germs, were involved. As I understand it, the difference comes from critters still present on hands after washing... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet
Caught an article on environmental concerns in the wake of flooding in North Carolina, that I'd wager many folks haven't tumbled to. Not much more to say; interesting read. Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2018 at The Janitors' Closet