What does it mean to be clean?

Albuquerque, NM: My name’s Tyanne Hawthorne. I am the newest and youngest team member at Build With Robots.

I am a marketing intern, and I personally hate cleaning. This is ironic for a person that works at a company known for disinfection. It’s a chore I do reluctantly, and arguably not as often as I should. Despite this, I still see myself as a bit of a germaphobe, especially when I’m out in public. Gas stations and bathrooms are a nightmare, I become hyper-aware of every little thing I touch.

I put my card in the slot – are there germs in there?

I press the button to choose my fuel – who else has touched this button?

Then I grab the nozzle, and I can feel the nastiness on it. When I put my card back into my wallet, I can’t help but think about all the germs that I just put in there with it. It’s an uncomfortable process, and with the pandemic going on, I’ve been extra aware of what I touch.

This is fresh in my mind because the Build with Robots team and I will be traveling to the American Association of Airports Executives Conference in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. We will be traveling in an airplane to get there, and it makes me wonder, “How are clean are these airports?”

What does it mean to be clean?

In the time that I have been here, I have learned many things that I overlooked for most of my life. Literally overlooked, because much of what I learned is on a microscopic level. So here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Cleaning, in a technical sense, only means that dirt, dust, and other visible particles have been removed, along with some germs. Disinfecting, on the other hand, is the actual killing of germs and bacteria using chemicals.

In other words, disinfecting actually kills germs while cleaning reduces germs. The EPA guidelines require a 6-log kill (99.9999%) in order to qualify a chemical as a disinfectant. A log kill essentially shows the number of live bacteria eliminated through disinfecting. This is important because germs can multiply and be completely restored within hours if a 6-log kill is not used (see image).

  1. Not all things that claim to be disinfectants actually are disinfectants.

Take Lysol as an example. Lysol wipes have a 3-log kill, meaning they reduce bacteria by 99.9% That [99.9%] may seem effective, but bacteria grow back fast enough that a 99.9% spray only keeps a surface safe for a few hours. What’s unnerving is that even if someone wipes down the surface every week, or even every day, bacteria and pathogens grow back fast enough that they effectively render any cleaning, as if it never happened. That’s why we use DF-500 with Breezy One, a disinfectant developed at the Sandia National Labs that has a 6-Log kill.

  1. Air travel is back. We hit the highest levels of air travel since before COVID-19 this past week.

Safer buildings means cleaner buildings

Knowing these things now has caused me to think more deeply about our trip to Las Vegas, which is now in less than 24 hours. What comes to mind is whether my fellow passengers are having the same thoughts?

When was the last time we were at an airport?

Do we recall all the people crowded in lines?

What about the way we have to remove our shoes and put them in bins to be reused for other people’s items?

Do we remember seeing other passengers take their carry-on bags everywhere, from restaurants to the bathroom?

We will soon remember these feelings as the world starts to reopen more and more. Airports, while a great way to travel, can still be filled with bacteria and pathogens which follow people across state and national borders. But because airports offer tremendous benefits, proper measures must be put in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

Routine sanitizing using effective disinfectants should be the requirement because that is what it means for a building to be safe. That could mean safety for our team, or safety for people who are more vulnerable (elderly, auto-immune diseases, etc.).

At Build with Robots, we are creating a safer space for travelers, workers, and their families. While I remain a germophobe, I know when I see Breezy One at the Sunport tomorrow, I’ll have peace of mind.

Learn more about how we are working together to keep spaces like the George Bush Intercontinental, William P. Hobby Airport, and the Albuquerque Sunport safe at BuildWithRobots.com.

About Build With Robots Inc.: Build With Robots is an Albuquerque-based technology company applying the latest robotics and automation within new industries. The company’s proprietary robotic systems are used by organizations in the transportation, construction, and entertainment industries. Its leading autonomous disinfection solution, Breezy One™ was developed at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to help reopen large facilities and keep workers and the public safe.

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