Aerify Solutions demonstrating the next step in the evolution of disinfection.

Like most great things, disinfection has changed for the better and grown with the advancement of technology. It remains one of our most important weapons in the fight against disease and our work to maintain a healthy society.

Although more cutting-edge disinfection tactics are commonly used today, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, people used to rely on rudimentary methods of disinfection including burial and burning. Luckily, we’ve come a long way.

Here’s a breakdown of the evolution of disinfection and the role that it has played in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

A Brief History of Disinfection

More than 100 years ago, mankind discovered that handwashing can prevent the spread of disease. This discovery was made by Dr. Semmelweis, who worked in a hospital in Vienna where women were dying after giving birth at alarming rates.

He made the connection that more women died when medical students who worked on cadavers right before entering the maternity ward were present. These medical students were not washing their hands. After Dr. Semmelweis asked them to do so, the rate of mortality decreased rapidly.

At that time, the mechanism of pathogens was not well understood. It took further scientific breakthroughs to fully understand why handwashing was preventing the deaths of women after labor.

Understandably, the interest in understanding disease-causing microorganisms exploded after Semmelweis’ findings. In 1867, the use of carbolic acid and phenol as an antimicrobial agent was introduced by Dr. Lister, who is considered the father of modern surgery. Today, his discovery is considered to be the beginning of infection control.

Before the contributions of Semmelweis and Lister, the concept of disinfection hinged on anything but genuine, scientific knowledge. The efficacy of a disinfectant was measured by its effects on living creatures. If there was visible corrosion, suffocation, or other toxic outcomes, it was considered a good disinfectant. Chemicals used were Sulphur dioxide, mercury derivatives, copper derivatives, alkalis, and acids.

However, even before this time, religious texts provide clues that suggest disinfecting was in the human psyche close to the beginnings of civilization. According to the Bible, returning soldiers’ clothing and equipment were set on fire. Other garments were placed in boiling water.

Homer’s epic The Odyssey, which was written in 800 BC, describes a scene where the hero demands that the house of his rivals must be set on fire with Sulphur. This has been said to be the first mention of chemicals used for disinfection purposes.

Today we use alcohol, aldehydes, oxidizing agents (hydrogen peroxide, ozone), phenol, chlorine, iodine, and more compounds to disinfect surfaces and areas. These methods are known to be very effective and have saved millions of lives.

The Role of Disinfection in Illness Prevention

Disinfection practices are paramount in the fight against illness, as the intention behind the practice is killing harmful pathogens. It is one of the most effective means of illness-prevention. Keep in mind that disinfection is a comprehensive process that can involve aspects of cleaning and sanitizing.

Disinfection differs from cleaning and sanitizing, as disinfection is the only method that uses killing off harmful germs as opposed to removing them. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic disinfection and the companies that provide this service has become even more critical.

The rapid spread of the virus has led to significant shortages of personal protective equipment for hospital workers and other professionals who may be exposed to people with the disease. They largely rely on stringent disinfection protocols to keep them safe.

Such protocols include the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, gloves and gowns, hand hygiene, patient transport guidelines, and how to disinfect textiles and dispose of medical waste. Additionally, disinfection methods have become much more complex and effective.

Hospitals, residences, and even government facilities are now relying on the disinfection services of companies that are using these new technologies. Disinfection services that use the process of atomization vital to our fight against the disease.

Residential Focus on Disinfection

Disinfection practices are no longer limited to healthcare settings. Americans have adopted the concept as well, disinfecting their homes on a regular basis with wipes, bleach, and other methods. With the threat of coronavirus, these efforts are amplifying in American homes.

One of COVID-19’s unique properties is that it can live on surfaces for a prolonged amount of time. A recent study found that the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours. People are taking measures to disinfect packages and groceries in various ways, one of which includes leaving items outside, or in vehicles for up to three days.

The rationale behind this practice is to give the virus time to die before it enters the home. Disinfecting wipes are flying off of grocery store shelves, so much so, that people are sharing recipes of how to make their own disinfectant.

Final Thoughts

Disinfection has played a pivotal role in our attempt to limit the spread of deadly diseases including the current life-threatening pandemic disease COVID-19. Moving forward, expect disinfection to become a more common occurrence in almost all aspects of daily life. From routine disinfection of public transportation to increased disinfection efforts at schools and businesses, disinfection services will have their hands full!