Decontamination Services with Chlorine Dioxide

July 2023 edition by Curtis Lilleodden

Is a Chlorine Dioxide decontamination treatment right for your business?

One type of treatment that FSS offers that many of our customers may not have considered, is a Decontamination fumigation with Chlorine Dioxide. Bacteria can live just about anywhere, and many can be harmless, but some types, when living in a food processing facility, can become a very serious issue very quickly. This can result in consumer complaints, product recalls, plant shutdowns, investigation by the FDA, customer illness, and even death which can lead to lawsuits and even criminal prosecution. A very effective way to kill these pathogens in a facility is by performing decontamination fumigation using Chlorine dioxide.

Chlorine Dioxide is a yellowish-green gas and has a distinct chlorine odor that can be detected by most people at very low levels. It is an unstable gas that is easily broken down in the atmosphere. This makes for a user-friendly chemical at disposal (ventilation) time, but it can also be hard to contain and very difficult to store. Generally, Chlorine Dioxide Gas is generated on-site as it is being introduced. The process uses this EPA-registered sterilant to kill any bacteria, yeasts, molds, and pathogens - and we guarantee a 6-log kill, including bacterial endospores, an important distinction between a true sterilant, and a disinfectant. Areas treated can range from as small as a single piece of equipment or panel up to several million cubic feet.

Like other gases that we as fumigators use to control pests, Chlorine Dioxide is a very small and mobile molecule that can easily penetrate cracks and openings. But unlike many other fumigants that we use, it can also penetrate water. This active molecule can be difficult to contain, so extensive detailed sealing, by trained professionals, prior to gas introduction helps ensure a successful treatment. This includes the sealing of vents, air handling equipment, doors, windows, wall floor, and ceiling penetrations to non-treated areas of the building, and sometimes involves the breaking of equipment lines to contain the gas.

There are some required “down-time” considerations needed to complete this process. All people, other than trained applicators with proper PPE must remain out of the structure and particularly the treatment area until the entire process is complete. This length of down-time will vary with the size and scope of the project but can be as short as a single work shift – 20 hours for small applications to several days for a plant-wide treatment. High and low-range gas detection monitors are used to record both efficacy levels as well as personnel monitors to protect application personal and any bystanders as well as for clearing the building again for re-entry.

Target concentrations will also vary with relative humidity levels and specific target pests. Bio Indicators are placed in the treatment area prior to the fumigation, and these test strips are sent to an independent lab post-treatment to verify the 6-log kill. This detailed report is provided to the customer post-treatment. Liquid solutions can also be applied in conjunction with the gas treatment to treat floors and drains using a 200 ppm CD solution.

There is some required prep work that includes a thorough physical cleaning for removal of excessive organic material, opening of and locking out equipment and, HVAC system. Once a building has been properly sealed, secured, and warning signs placed, the gas introduction begins. Gas concentrations are monitored and recorded until effective levels are reached, at which point the aeration process begins. Buildings and structures are not handed back over to the client until all unsafe levels of gas are cleared from the building.

If your sanitation team is struggling to get mold, bacteria, or other pathogens under control in your food production facility; you may want to consider a Chlorine Dioxide Fumigation as a viable option for your business.