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Explore this issueJune/July 2013
Historically dry floor treatment products are powdered or granular formulations that can be applied to a dry or wet floor to prevent slipping, provide cleaning and deodorizing activity, or in some cases, sanitize floors once activated. There are a variety of dry floor treatment chemistries on the market, with different characteristics and approvals for use.
Types of Dry Floor Products
Dry floor products can generally be segmented into the following three categories: anti-slip, cleaning/deodorizing, and sanitizing. Anti-slip and cleaning and deodorizing formulations are limited by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to making performance and marketing claims that include cleaning, removing stains, and deodorizing. Marketing these products for uses other than these is in violation of federal law. A new class of sanitizing products has recently been introduced by several manufacturers that are registered with the EPA. These products have been shown to be effective antimicrobial control agents and therefore are allowed to legally make sanitizing claims.
Anti-Slip Powders. Anti-slip powders are used to absorb moisture and break down oils, fats, and grease to increase traction. Most anti-slip floor powders contain sodium bicarbonate as a primary ingredient, and are relatively inexpensive. Dry products to aid traction are normally free flowing powders or formulated into small granules to avoid a slipping hazard. The key components of an effective anti-slip powder are: degreasing performance, moisture absorbance, and long lasting, slow-dissolving granules.
Floor Cleaners/Deodorizers. The majority of dry floor treatments can be classified as cleaners/deodorizers. A number of chemistries are currently available for cleaning and deodorizing, including quaternary ammonium-based products (with or without urea), sodium percarbonate-based products, surfactant blends, and acids. It is important to note, however, that these products can only be used to clean and to deodorize, and do not have approval as sanitizers without an EPA registration for floor sanitization. Many dry floor cleaners are also formulated with sodium bicarbonate to aid in traction as well.
Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are a class of cationic surfactants that are often used in deodorizers, sanitizers, or anti-static products. In dry form, QACs are frequently blended with urea and provide cleaning and deodorizing activity once the powder or granule comes into contact with moisture. The advantage of QAC-based dry floor treatments includes a longer residual deodorizing activity once activated by moisture as compared to other formulations. However, QACs are rapidly consumed in the presence of organic soils and under hard water conditions. Urea containing formulations are used for cost reasons but can have negative effects on wastewater. When activated by moisture, urea produces ammonia which can result in high ammonia levels in plant wastewater if usage levels are not monitored.
Sodium percarbonate-based cleaners release sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide once activated by moisture, producing an alkaline hydrogen peroxide solution. Used as an oxidizing agent to clean and whiten/bleach floors, dry sodium percarbonate-based floor cleaners are more compatible with wastewater than urea/QAC blends because they ultimately break down into sodium carbonate, water, and oxygen. However, sodium percarbonate based formulations do not have a cleaning and deodorizing residual profile comparable to dry QAC based compounds.
Floor Sanitizing. It has been widely documented that the most prevalent location for positive Listeria monocytogenes findings in USDA inspected meat plants are “floors” and “floor drains.” In 2004, the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted an audit of 31 USDA inspected RTE meat plants and found 27.8 percent of the floors and drains they tested were positive for Listeria (32 positives/115 samples). Similar studies have been conducted in non RTE environments, and include other organisms such as Salmonella spp. and E. coli spp.
While the use of cleaners and sanitizers during sanitation are designed to mitigate the risk of these pathogens, floors and drains are notoriously difficult to clean and are easily re-contaminated during production. Used correctly, dry floor sanitizers can be a valuable tool in eliminating pathogens on floors, in drains, and in entryways by providing a continuous residual sanitizer in cracks, crevices, and other difficult to clean areas of the floor.