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"...more than one-third of Americans are wasting toilet paper in public restrooms", according to a survey reported by our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management. Problem is, that's just a report of what folks believed and were willing to admit to. Doubtless, the real number is higher. At the same time, "A high majority (87 percent) of the survey respondents believe it is important that businesses use sustainable products in their public restrooms to help prevent product waste". Go figure. China has a larger problem. Folks don't just over-use, they grab it in bunches and take it home. So China... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Janitors' Closet
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A subject we tend to not think about in commercial janitorial, and I suspect in a number of other maintenance fields, is hearing protection when using or working around noisy equipment. Fortunately, about the only equipment we use with much sound at all is the backpack vacuum, and it's not bad. A good rule of thumb, according to an article by our friends at Cleaning and Maintenance Management, is that if you have to shout to be heard over the equipment, you need hearing protection. A nice point of the article is a good explanation of how to use, and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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A friend (my sales manager from 30-some years ago, now retired) sent me the following: "This article linked below from a friend of mine in England. It seems no matter how you 'slice' it, statistics, or what counts for empirical knowledge on gangs is contentious. London looks at the intersection of knives, or sharp objects, and juvenile behavior. While we look at guns, or as in Chicago, at 'shots fired'. I wonder if The Bobbies are counting stitches, cause as you might have heard, snitches get stitches." https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47388890 My reply, as regards (somewhat) the commercial janitorial industry: Lots of threads... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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More good news. A study just out indicates the widely used antibacterial Triclosan, used in toothpaste, kids toys and, of all things, socks, seems to strengthen the bacteria it comes in contact with: " Based on these data, we hypothesized that triclosan exposure may inadvertently drive bacteria into a state in which they are able to tolerate normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics. Here we report that clinically relevant concentrations of triclosan increased E. coli and MRSA tolerance to bactericidal antibiotics as much as 10,000 fold in vitro and reduced antibiotic efficacy up to 100-fold in a mouse urinary tract infection... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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A product that get sprayed on hotel room surfaces to disinfect them, ongoing, is coming into use in Denmark. According to an article in Cleaning & Maintenance, "The hotels have partnered with Danish company ACT. Global, which developed a spray technology known as Clean Coat. A two-year test has shown that the spray’s active ingredient, titanium dioxide, breaks down pathogen microbes, including influenza, salmonella, mold spores, and allergens." The goal seems to be to cut cleaning time. Somewhat offsetting the savings will be the $2500.00 per room application cost, renewable annually, and the cost to clear the room of all... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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A hopeful, but perhaps naïve, report out of our friends at Cleaning & Maintenance Management. In the 10th Annual Hand washing Survey (bet you didn't know that was a thing), folks report that they wash their hands 87% of the time when using public restrooms. (The reasons given for NOT doing so involve dirty sinks, lack of soap, and so on - issues we do our best to address in doing commercial janitorial). We notidced last Presidential election that people sometimes fib to survey takers (often not wanting to admit to opinions or actions that are socially unacceptable). Might just... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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California, one of the most progressive, richest, and highest taxed states in the nation, is looking at adding a tax to remove pollutants from many residents' drinking water. From an article in the Sacramento Bee, Governor "Newsom last month released a state budget that called for a new fee on drinking water to fund drinking water projects. He did not release many details, but the proposal was characterized as similar to a 2017 bill by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, that would have generated $140 million a year for water projects." Used to be that government was supposed to address safety... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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Polluted indoor air is said to be responsible for a good many premature deaths. Here's an interesting article, out of Perdue University, on developments in sensors that can detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that cause many of those deaths. From the article: “Our work’s goal is developing low-cost volatile organic compound sensors capable of identifying indoor air quality problems and capable of controlling ventilation in response to high indoor emissions,” Braun said. “Sensing indoor volatile organic compound concentrations and then adjusting ventilation accordingly can maintain acceptable levels, but current sensor technologies are much too expensive for this purpose.” Also of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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Interesting story out of Bristol, England. It seems that the local fire chiefs are warning folks to exercise caution when using social media tips on cleaning chemicals. The reason that we in commercial janitorial train our crews in chemical usage involves the various hazards one might encounter in mixing inappropriate chemicals, or neglecting proper ventilation, or failing to don protective equipment (at the most basic level, eye protection and gloves). One gal, for instance, found herself inside a chlorine gas cloud after mixing bleach and vinegar to scour her shower. You'd think, in England at least, people would have some... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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We don't see a lot of mold in the Phoenix area where I work in commercial janitorial, as mold likes wet places; most building here have little problem with wet foundation, walls or attic. But where there is an active moisture source - think a floor drain, a pipe leak in a restroom wall, a blockage in the drain line from the air conditioning unit - we have a problem, just like anyone else. Some people are allergic to mold, and some molds (thankfully, a minority) are toxic to all people. So the preferred solution is to fix the leak,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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One might think that a wealthy nation like America could defeat most of the communicable diseases that have plagued (no pun intended) mankind for millennia. Not so. Measles, declared eradicated in the US back in 2004, has increased its incidence some 20-fold in the years since (albeit from a vey low start point). The reason is lack of vaccination. When you vaccinate a large preponderance of the kids, you confer "herd immunity" - though not everyone is vaccinated, enough are that the pathogen cannot move through the population. (Some folks, due to reactions to a given vaccine, cannot be vaccinated.)... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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Here's an interesting news release out of Northwell Health. Using surround UV light, they've achieved 97.7% pathogen elimination in a hospital setting, covering multiple surfaces. Not quite full disinfection, but compared to fallible humans... They do stress that the UV light application will not replace traditional human cleaning and disinfecting, but used as a "second hit", the method seems to me to show tremendous potential. In providing healthcare cleaning, we use a full hospital grade disinfectant which, if used thoroughly, ought provide close to total pathogen kill. But, while we do our best (proper equipment and methodology, training, supervision, and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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For all the concern about plastic straws, water bottles, and bags, it turns out that our most littered item is - the plastic cigarette filter (cigarette butt) - at least by number of items, as opposed to poundage. Makes sense. Other items are big, and kind of noticeable when you toss them. Food service items - plates, soda cups and straws - tend to go into the trash can at the restaurant; bags (at least the ones I get) are used to pick up after the dog. Cigarette butts are dropped on the sidewalk, or out of the car window.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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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 Jan 9, 2019 at The Janitors' Closet
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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