Is Targeting of Germs Hit or Miss?

Is Targeting of Germs Hit or Miss?

In archery, hitting a bullseye is a matter of training, using the right bow, arrow, arrowhead or projectile point, string tension and strength; plus adjusting for wind and aiming at the correct target.

Disinfection using chemicals involves similar targeting. It requires:

  • Training in proper use of chemical disinfectants.
  • The right disinfectant (bow).
  • The right arrow (active ingredient).
  • The right arrowhead, string tension, strength (application, dwell, dilution).
  • Adjusting for wind (compensating for environmental conditions such as hard water, soil load, etc.)
  • Aiming at the right pathogen (pointing at the correct target).


When Disinfectants Miss the Target

Chemical disinfectants miss the mark when the active ingredient is ineffective against the target organism.

For example, quaternary ammonium disinfectants (quats) are not very effective against non-enveloped viruses such as norovirus and adenoviruses, e.g., cold viruses.

Non-enveloped viruses are resistant to many chemical disinfectants, so these will often miss the target.

Other chemical disinfectants may be effective under lab conditions, but the “arrow” fails to hit the mark under actual environmental conditions. For example, while bleach (5000 ppm sodium hypochlorite) kills norovirus, if the area is somewhat dirty with fecal or other organic soil, the spot must be precleaned with detergent and water, followed by exposure to bleach for at least 5 min.

This “lightweight” arrow is blown off course by inherent chemical-active limitations plus the “wind” of real-world application; very few people properly pre-clean and allow adequate dwell or soak time.

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