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July 6, 2010 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is restroom maintenance.
How can managers ensure the success of their departments’ efforts to properly maintain and clean restrooms? Even with the best cleaning program and periodic preventive maintenance, managers must be able to monitor performance and be ready to make changes.
For example, a maintenance program might work fine until seasonal weather changes occur. If humidity levels and temperatures are high with little air circulation — in other words, if no doors or windows are open and no air conditioners are running — buildings can experience sudden, new mold growth.
In closed spaces that occupants subsequently re-open, this new mold can cause medical problems resulting from the release of mycotoxins, which can lead to health problems that include skin irritation, serious reactions and even death. The situation also can result in more expenses for cleaning products and services, property damage, and even lawsuits to pay for remedial action.
Restrooms can be particularly susceptible to such problems if leaks introduce excess moisture. The preventive solution to this unexpected situation is to test both air and surfaces to complement good cleaning and maintenance. Microbes are invisible to the naked eye, and even in the best-maintained facilities, they can grow quickly and become hazardous to health.
The solution is to monitor hygiene using indoor-air-quality samplers for indoor air and swabs for surfaces. One such tester records the level of adenosine triphosphate, a molecule in all animal, bacterial, plant, mold, and yeast cells.
Other services offer lab testing of samples collected on site. These services provide the independent backup to in-house checks, as well as the certification necessary to ensure in-house testing is thorough enough, and that restrooms meets the expectations of the owner, managers, and users.