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Friday Funnies: Tom and Jerry–Mouse Cleaning

December 2, 2011

Research links water disinfection byproducts to adverse health effects

November 30, 2011

posted approx. October 19, 2011

University of Illinois scientists report the first identification of a cellular mechanism linked to the toxicity of a major class of drinking water disinfection byproducts. This study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, suggests a possible connection to adverse health effects, including neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

"I’m not implying that drinking disinfected water will give you Alzheimer’s," says Michael Plewa, lead scientist and professor of genetics in the U of I Department of Crop Sciences. "Certainly, the disinfection of drinking water was one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. But the adverse effects of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are unintentionally formed during this process are causing concerns as researchers unveil their toxicity."

More than 600 DBPs have been discovered. Although researchers know some DBPs are toxic, little biological information is available on the majority of these water contaminants. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates only 11 of these DBPs, he said.

Plewa’s laboratory investigated the biological mechanism, or the cellular target that leads to toxicity, in the second-most prevalent DBP class generated in disinfected water – haloacetic acids (HAAs).

"The EPA has regulated HAAs for nearly 15 years. However, we did not know how they caused toxicity before this study," he says. "Now that we’ve uncovered the mechanism for HAAs, we can make sense of past data that can lead to new studies relating to adverse pregnancy outcomes, different types of cancer, and neurological dysfunction."

Plewa believes this will assist the EPA in establishing regulations based on science. Their research will also help the water treatment community develop new methods to prevent the generation of the most toxic DBPs.

"It’s fairly simple," Plewa says. "To increase the health benefits of disinfected water, we must reduce the most toxic DBPs. If we understand their biological mechanisms, we can come up with more rational ways to disinfect drinking water without generating toxic DBPs."

In this study, researchers focused on three HAAs – iodoacetic acid, bromoacetic acid and chloroacetic acid. After they rejected their first hypothesis that the HAAs directly damaged DNA, they looked at research in a different area – neuroscience. Plewa’s graduate student, Justin Pals, discovered an amazing connection, Plewa said.

In neurotoxicology, iodoacetic acid reduces the availability of nutrients or oxygen in neurons by inhibiting glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH).

"Researchers are interested in understanding how to prevent damage after a stroke or other neurological damage," Plewa says. "Iodoacetic acid kills these cells. One of the targets they found was that iodoacetic acid inhibited GAPDH."

Plewa’s lab conducted quantitative GAPDH enzyme kinetics and discovered that the data were highly correlated with a diversity of adverse health markers.

"All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place in an instant," Plewa says. "We had discovered our cellular target – GAPDH. Never before had this type of research been done with this level of precision and associated with a large body of adverse biological impacts."

They discovered that the HAA disinfection byproducts were toxic because the cells cannot make ATP, and this causes oxidative stress.

"Cells treated with HAAs experience DNA damage," Plewa says. "So they start expressing DNA repair systems. HAAs are not directly damaging DNA, rather they are inhibiting GAPDH, which is involved in increasing the oxidative stress that we are observing."

A growing body of information has shown that GAPDH is associated with the onset of neurological diseases.

"If you carry a natural mutation for GAPDH and are exposed to high levels of these disinfection byproducts, you could be more susceptible to adverse health effects such as Alzheimer’s," he says.

More research is needed to study iodinated disinfection byproducts because they are the most reactive in inhibiting GAPDH function and are currently not regulated by the EPA, Plewa said.

"We replaced the standard working model of direct DNA damage with a new working model based on a cellular target molecule," he says. "This discovery is a fundamental contribution to the field of drinking water science."

This research, "Biological Mechanism for the Toxicity of Haloacetic Acid Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts," was published in Environmental Science & Technology. Scientists include Michael Plewa, Justin Pals, Justin Ang and Elizabeth Wagner, all of the University of Illinois. Research was supported by the WaterCAMPWS Center NSF Award CTS-0120978.

Originally published by Infection Control Today

The UK contract cleaning market

November 29, 2011

Okay, so maybe you don’t care so much what happens across the pond, but since they share our suffering in a recession, we wanted to see what we could learn from their experience. These are a few of the take-aways we value in this article:

General Trends

  • increased emphasis on products/processes that value the environment and promote sustainability
  • increases in labor costs following increases in wage rates
  • enhanced standards of health and cleanliness demanded by health and food industries
  • diminished new construction, reducing new market development


  • further limitations on use of chemicals in cleaning process
  • increased use of powered cleaning equipment

Though the specific trends and laws are based on the experience of Great Britain, there is no denying that these same market trends are affecting the US cleaning industry.

Right here at home, we see the same signs for new neighborhoods that we’ve seen for four years now—because no one can afford to invest in that new construction, limiting new prospective clients for us.

As a service business—like plumbers, electricians, painters, etc—the largest part of our price for services is the labor…the wage we pay to those who perform services for you. And like any service business owner, we have a minimum wage we must pay by law but we also must balance that with a respectable and livable wage, which is higher. We know the scientific knowledge and the physical skill necessary to perform a consistent hygienic cleaning in your home.

But perhaps the biggest difference is that the more we know about the science behind our cleaning products and processes, the more we know about the hazards of many of them that we’ve depended on for many years. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency is succumbing to pressure to increase its regulation of many known hazardous chemicals but also to engage the necessary research to clear up questions about the hazards and benefits of others. This has led to

  1. the development of chemical free cleaning equipment and
  2. the increasingly wide-spread adoption of mechanical equipment to effect visual and hygienic cleaning in your home

That’s why we are the first in our area to offer Chemical Free Cleaning—a program where our equipment uses plain water PLUS a significant energy source to clean up dirt better AND kill more germs and bacteria:

  • Ladybug Dry Vapor Steamer with TANCS = disinfecting heat at 220 degrees Farenheit
  • Activion Ionator = water ionization + electricity to zap those bacteria dead
  • PerfectCLEAN Antimicrobial cloths = finest microscopic fibers for picking up and removing the smaller particles than any other cloth on the market





Friday Funnies: Don’t waste your life cleaning…let us do it for you!

November 25, 2011

Gas Pumps Among the Dirtiest Surfaces, study reveals

November 23, 2011

posted approx. October 19, 2011

Just in time for cold and flu season, new testing in six major U.S. cities reveals that gas pump and mailbox handles may be among the dirtiest surfaces Americans touch. The results, released today by Kimberly-Clark Professional, show that more than 60 percent of gas pump and mailbox handles and more than 40 percent of escalator rails and ATM machine buttons can be highly contaminated, potentially exposing people to illness-causing bacteria. Illness in the workplace is not just a health issue, but can also have a major economic impact. Each year companies lose $1,685 per employee due to absenteeism and presenteeism (employees coming to work while sick).

The testing was conducted by trained hygienists in high traffic locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia. Using a Hygiena SystemSURE II™ ATP Meter, a device commonly used to monitor sanitary conditions in industry, hygienists swabbed the objects to measure levels of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission. In all, more than 350 separate swabs were taken and analyzed.

The percentage of public surfaces tested and found to have high levels of contamination (an ATP count of 300 or higher), includes: 

– 71 % of gas pump handles
– 68 % of mailbox handles 
– 43 % of escalator rails
– 41 % of ATM buttons
– 40 % of parking meters/kiosks
– 35 % of crosswalk buttons
– 35 % of vending machine buttons

"People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed to going to work each day and doing everyday things like filling their gas tank or riding on an escalator," says Charles Gerba,PhD, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. "This new testing is compelling because it underscores the importance of hand and surface hygiene. Most cold and flu viruses are spread because people touch surfaces in their immediate area and then touch their faces, other objects and other people. Washing and drying your hands frequently throughout the day, can help prevent your risk of getting sick or spreading illness around the office."

"The likelihood for illnesses to transfer from the objects that people use every day like ATMs and parking meters is eye-opening," says Brad Reynolds, North American platform leader of The Healthy Workplace Project for Kimberly-Clark Professional. "These findings indicate that illness-causing germs are everywhere and have the potential to travel with you into your office space. That’s why we developed The Healthy Workplace Project – a unique approach to hand and surface hygiene that helps employees understand and reduce the spread of cold and flu germs throughout their workplaces."

The Healthy Workplace Project is a new, multi-faceted program that Kimberly-Clark Professional has designed to help companies provide their employees with a healthier and more productive office environment. The program provides educational materials in conjunction with hand and surface hygiene products to employees, arming them with the tools and knowledge necessary to break the cycle of germ transmission in the office. By reinforcing the importance of "washing, wiping and sanitizing" through The Healthy Workplace Project, employers can help reduce that impact.

For more information on Kimberly-Clark Professional and The Healthy Workplace Project visit

Originally published at Infection Control Today

The Annual Thanksgiving Cleaning!

November 22, 2011

Have you gotten your Thanksgiving Cleaning on?

Thanksgiving Cleaning

My Maid Service Owner Derek Christian Interviewed by U.S. Bank Business Watch-Cincinnati

November 21, 2011
Targeted marketing is the way to go for home cleaning businesses!


My Maid Service owner and Proctor & Gamble veteran Derek Christian learned the power and value of targeted marketing as the right approach to selling home cleaning products and services. His experience and success proves that “being all things to all people” is the least effective motto for developing marketing for such a subjective service and outcome. Because of this, Christian is a founding partner of the Institute for Service Excellence, the first and only approved training school in the world for the House Cleaning Technician (HCT) certification course; the certification and credentials are held by The Clean Trust (formerly IICRC), the long-trusted certifying organization for the carpet and cleaning industry, certifying carpet technicians, fire restoration, mold remediation, and more! Christian is excited to be able to realize this long-time goal of educating, elevating, and professionalizing the home cleaning industry through standards and certification!