Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Places at Risk and Ways of Transferring Communicable Disease

August 1st, 2016 10:04 AM by Dan Howard

         It is a fact that caretakers are often more at risk from exposures because they are under stress, have a disrupted routine and are working harder to keep everything OK for the person receiving the care.

Common Disease Transfer Methods

Vectors: This is the fancy word for things such as mosquitos that transfer diseases from one person to another.

Consumption: This is disease that is spread through contaminated food.  


Air transfer: This is airborne transfer between living things. Masks are the best protection for these agents. In some cultures, the sick person has responsibility to wear masks to protect others from infection. Our approach is usually for the person not wanting exposed to wear the mask


Touchpoints: Examples, refrigerator or microwave handle, door knobs, railings, tops of chairs

bathroom fixtures, phones, kitchen appliances, laundry appliances, spigots, handles, remote controls, computers, tables, chair backs and arms, linens, stuffed animals, water fountains and all of your automobile touchpoints.

Common Conditions That Increase Vulnerability from Touchpoints and Air Transfer

                People in close quarters

                Day care, schools, workplace, any enclosed public location

                 Ambulance transfers  

                 Air travel


                Workplace material handling

Modern buildings with energy efficient systems that deny us fresh air

What to Do for “At Risk” People

So now that you have the bejeebers scared out of you, we need to look at what we can do to avoid these exposures. By the way, I never knew what a bejeeber was, but I know I never wanted to have one scared out of me.

  • Consult with your medical professional to determine the areas of greatest risk for the at risk person.
  • Find professionals that understand housing science to evaluate risks and identify sources
  • Do any required testing to determine if actual exposures exist and need corrected
  • Take action to reduce the exposure risk. The medical community calls this “avoidance.” This is a great goal!


Vectors: Eliminate at least one step ion how the vector transfers disease to humans. As an example, if we are talking Zika, eliminate the mosquito, or eliminate the mosquito biting you. This could be proper clothing, repellants or area treatments. Pick the point that will most likely succeed. If you were having a wedding or sports event, you would do an area treatment after eliminating standing water areas.


Consumption: We have the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) charges with the responsibility of checking our food supply. Most of the time, they are successful. It still pays to not take risks such as undercooked meat consumption.


Air Transfer: Teach proper hygiene when it comes to sneezing and coughing. Have contagious persons wear masks, or if they do not wear a mask. Cleaning of HVAC and any other air moving systems may need cleaned. 


Touchpoints: Clean all of the touchpoints with a disinfectant. The use of a Luminometer which tests for

ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which indicates the presence of any remaining organic contaminants. It is the simplest way to know for certain if a cleaning program is working. There are numerous chemicals that are effective disinfectants. However, for some very serious exposures, there are particular disinfection products that must be used.   



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