The Understanding of Biocides
In addition to having knowledge of the microbiological agents present in a water-damaged environment, restoration specialists must have an understanding of the proper use of the chemical agents that control the amplification of these microorganisms and their by-products. A biocide is any poison that kills both pathogenic and nonpathogenic living organisms. The term is used commonly within the water damage industry to describe any agent that kills microorganisms or controls their amplification, including bacteria, molds, slimes, or fungi. Biocidal chemicals used in the cleaning and/or restoration industry usually contain alcohol, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, quaternary ammonium chloride or a synthesized phenolic compound. Quaternary ammonium chlorides have often been used to kill bacteria. Chlorines are strong oxidizing agents and can cause color loss in carpets and fabrics, will dissolve wool and other protein fabrics, and corrode metal. Phenolics are a potential health hazard because of their ability to build up in the respiratory system and should never be fogged. A primary benefit of using biocides is that they extend the time before microorganisms begin to grow. They are also part of the decontamination process when pathogenic organisms are present. Biocides are useful in preventing microorganisms from growing on surfaces within water-damaged structures. Biocides are useful in returning property to a preloss state.