Aerosols, Fomites and Air Quality: What Current Research Says About the Impact of Cleaning on Health


COST: $99/individual and $199/package


What you need to know:


Registration for individual webinars is $99, and $199 to attend all three. CIRI members will receive a 50 percent discount on individual and package event prices, and should check their email for discount codes.




WEBINAR 1: “Environmental Persistence and Transmissibility of Respiratory Viruses: A Laboratory Perspective," presented by Karen Kormuth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology at Bethany College in West Virginia. This webinar will take place on Thursday, Apr 15, 2021 1:00 PM EDT.


Understanding mechanisms of virus transmission is critical to developing guidance for cleaning and day-to-day activities, but this is not a trivial problem. The relative contributions of aerosol and fomite transmission of respiratory viruses are difficult to determine, and can be influenced by a variety of viral, host and environmental factors.


Using lessons learned from influenza, this webinar will describe laboratory approaches to understanding environmental persistence of viruses both in the air and on surfaces, including caveats of various experimental approaches. Looking ahead, “cleaning for health” should not be constrained to combat only one mode of transmission, but rather should be molded to suit this complex problem.


What you will learn:


  1. To identify the modes of respiratory virus transmission, and discuss the relative importance of each transmission mode
  2. To adapt lessons learned by empirical study of influenza virus stability in the air and on surfaces to the current pandemic
  3. To understand environmental, host, and viral factors driving persistence of viruses with respect to improving approaches to ‘cleaning for health’



About the Presenter:

Dr. Kormuth completed her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in 2016, followed by a postdoctoral research position under Dr. Seema Lakdawala at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and in close collaboration with Dr. Linsey Marr (Virginia Tech). Dr. Kormuth specialized in understanding factors that influence transmission of human and animal influenza viruses, identifying a role for human airway mucus in environmental persistence of viruses in the air and on surfaces. Since 2019, Dr. Kormuth has been an Assistant Professor of Biology at Bethany College in WV, where she continues to investigate virus stability with her students.




WEBINAR 2: “Surface Cleaning, Air Cleaning and Indoor Air Quality: Expect the Unexpected," presented by Douglas B. Collins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Bucknell University. This webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 26 2021 1:00 PM EDT.


Indoor air quality is associated with a range of health outcomes for building occupants. The composition of indoor air is governed by the building's environmental surroundings, structural and material features of the building, air handling, and the activities that take place within. From a chemical perspective, the composition of air in a building can change rapidly in response to a change in any one of the aforementioned factors.


In this presentation, Prof. Collins will focus on how surface and air cleaning methods can bring about unintended consequences for indoor air. Since nearly every action we take in a building can have a downstream effect on the indoor environment, it is important to consider both the direct and indirect effects of our actions on indoor air. Despite our best intentions to maintain healthy indoor environments, we need to expect that we will come to find perhaps unexpected air quality outcomes resulting from our actions.


What you will learn:


  1. “Need to Know” basics of air chemistry
  2. A review of current research on how surface chemistry impacts air quality
  3. The effects of air cleaning methods on indoor air.



About the Presenter:

Hailing from New Jersey, Prof. Collins graduated from Colgate University in 2008, where he studied chemistry with a minor in geology. Prof. Collins earned his graduate degrees under the guidance of Prof. Kimberly Prather at the University of California, San Diego. Upon completing his Ph.D. in 2014, he became a laboratory manager and the Interim Managing Director for CAICE. As part of the IndoorChem community, Prof. Collins uses expertise and advanced analytical technology from outdoor atmospheric chemistry to explore the processes that drive pollutant concentrations within indoor air. In 2018, Prof. Collins moved to Lewisburg to join the Bucknell University faculty as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry.




WEBINAR 3: “What’s in Your Cleaner and Why Should You Care?," presented by Kerry Kinney, Ph.D. & Pawel Misztal, Ph.D., Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. This webinar will take place on Wednesday, June 24 2021 1:00 PM EDT.


Indoor cleaning activities are an essential part of our daily routine to maintain clean surfaces and prevent the spread of infectious agents. The use of broad-spectrum disinfectants has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic but selecting the best cleaner from the large array of possibilities can be difficult. The optimal cleaner should not only be effective for its intended purpose but should also not generate harmful byproducts or accumulate in the indoor environment. It can be challenging to determine which cleaning agents are most appropriate for different cleaning scenarios and how the main ingredients, additives and byproducts may affect indoor air quality.


Another question is what are the long-term fates of these products in the indoor environment? Some cleaning approaches include reactive, short-lived oxidants such as hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide, while others use long-lived surfactants such as quaternary ammonium compounds (aka the quats). One important characteristic of the built environment is the high surface-to-volume ratio, which means that reactions of cleaners on surfaces may lead to an accumulation of secondary byproducts in the air if the space is not properly ventilated. With the recent advances in molecular biology technologies, it is possible to assess the efficacy of cleaners for bacteria, fungi and viruses. Similarly, new state-of-the-art analytical instruments now make it possible to quantify the real-time chemical composition of cleaning agents as well as the primary and secondary compounds generated from indoor cleaning practices. Collecting this type of data can be used to help guide the selection of the most appropriate and environmentally-friendly cleaners for a wide-range of applications.


What you will learn:


  1. The effects of cleaning activities on indoor air quality
  2. The efficacy of different cleaners for inactivating potentially infectious or pathogenic agents in buildings
  3. Novel measurements of the primary and secondary chemicals present in common cleaning formulations and how these may affect indoor air quality
  4. Recommendations for selecting safer cleaners and for practices (such as PPE and ventilation) that minimize inhalation exposure to chemical products



About the Presenters:

Dr. Kerry Kinney is the Gilven Centennial Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin as well as a Professor in the Department of Population Health at the Dell Medical School. Her cross-disciplinary research in environmental engineering centers on the investigation of human exposure to contaminants in the built environment. Her research team investigates microbial communities, pathogens, allergens and pollutants present in a range of settings including homes, schools, and commercial buildings. Her current research focuses on the microbiome and pathogen studies, bioaerosols, contaminant exposure pathways as well as identifying the relationships between indoor exposures and the physical and mental health of building occupants.


Pawel Misztal, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering department. His technical interests are broad and include quantification of fluxes of volatile organic compounds (VOC) by eddy covariance at ecosystem (tower) and regional (aircraft) scales; understanding the fate, transformations and removal processes of gas-phase aerosol precursors to understand and quantify the role of VOCs for secondary organic aerosol formation; thinking holistically to understand the feedbacks between anthropogenic pollution, biogenic VOCs (BVOCs), and atmospheric chemistry, and their links to climate, food security and health; and interdisciplinary research to quantify the links between atmospheric chemistry (indoors and outdoors), environmental microbiome, and human health.




In March, CIRI hosted “COVID-19 and Pandemic Preparedness: Science-Based Solutions for Service Providers,” a full-day virtual symposium attended by more than 1,000 cleaning and restoration professionals. To learn more about this event and sign up to watch the video recordings, click here.



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