By Richard D. Cantwell
Returning back to normal life in our churches requires an updated comprehensive cleaning/disinfection plan be adopted by churches in response to the Covid-19 virus and other related pathogens that infect children and adults.
Each church’s goal should be to create a healthier/cleaner/safer environment for all church operating personnel, as well as the church’s congregation. Each plan should be used in navigating the reestablishment of the church’s full schedule of services and operational functions for all areas of the church.
Each plan will require enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols utilizing a variety of existing as well as new processes, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products and technologies. Effective cleaning/disinfecting of air and surfaces is essential to getting back to operations in our churches.
Every church must understand their structures of operation, which includes the square footage of each office/classroom, sanctuary, nursery, kitchen and common area, along with the average daily use of each these areas of the church. Understanding this data allows for each church to tailor their cleaning/disinfecting plan for each space.
Proper cleaning and disinfecting with this operational data has become even more challenging as we learned more about the transmission and spread of Covid-19 and other flu-like airborne viruses.
Our enhanced learning and understanding of the spread of virus due to breathing, coughing and sneezing, as well as how mold and fungus affect Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), requires a focus on air purification/disinfecting for each space in a church.
It is challenging for church personnel and committees to take the time to research new products and technologies that can help them design the proper protocols with the proper products to provide a safe and clean environment.
Fortunately, there are engineering companies, PPE supply companies and IAQ companies that have taken the time to properly vet/evaluate new and innovative products/technologies focused on providing safer/cleaner environments.
These companies should be certified distributors and/or installers of products or technologies they recommend. These firms should specify the right products for each targeted area in the church and oversee supply of or installation of those products.
Proper vetting of products is critically important. Vetting includes the researching of the testing done with each product, the certifications associated with the products, as well as the proper application of each product.
Proper certifications with FDA, EPA, California Air Resources Board (CARB), as well as proper Underwriters Laboratories listing, will reduce liability and risk of using new products and technologies. Products should come with warranties. Products must be safe, trusted, tested.
Whether your church engages with outside consultation to develop a plan or you utilize inside resources, the focus of an effective comprehensive plan must include new technologies for cleaning/disinfecting the air.
Effective air purification technologies should provide continuous and proactive disinfecting of airborne and surface pathogens. Continuous means that the technology can be used 24/7 safely in rooms with children and adults and even pets present.
Proactive means that the technology produces airborne molecules that seek out active pathogens in the air, including the virus that causes Covid-19, and neutralizes the pathogens, rendering the air clean and safe.
The best of these technologies should create oxidizing molecules that also reduce bacteria, odors, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) both in the air and on surfaces.
These technologies must be proven to destroy up to 99.99% of pathogens including the virus that causes Covid-19, as well as Avian Influenza, E-Coli, MRSA, Norovirus, Staph bacteria, Candida, Swine Flu, Hepatitis, Legionella and more. Unlike passive air filters, purifiers and other technologies, proactive technologies provide continuous purification.
The ultimate goal of a comprehensive plan for churches is to create a safe, clean, pathogen and germ-free space that provides peace of mind for all church clergy, staff and those attending/visiting their church.
Richard D. Cantwell, P.E. is president of Odell International Inc., which provides premier management, technical, and advisory services to design, develop, and operate major institutional systems and projects on a global basis, www.odell-intl.com.