This Just In

Cleaning for COVID and Other Infectious Diseases

TSE Staff

CHICAGO – As China, Europe and a few states in America begin to reopen post-COVID, TSE reached out to Patricia (Patty) Olinger, Executive Director of GBAC, the Global BioRisk Advisory Council, about cleaning practices that can safeguard people attending trade shows.

GBAC, a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, who partners on the now Informa-owned ISSA Show North America a longstanding TSE Gold 100 show, is recognized as a leader in training, education and certification in Forensic Restoration®, Biorisk management, decontamination and infection control disciplines.

GBAC’s work addresses the current market need for advanced knowledge and application of science-based cleaning, disinfection and infection-control practices—or cleaning for COVID.

Q. What is GBAC and what exactly does it do?
A. The Global Biorisk Advisory Council — or GBAC — a division of ISSA is composed of international leaders in the fields of biorisk management, microbiology, infection and contamination control communities. GBAC helps train organizations and professionals to prepare for, respond to, and recover from biological threats. The mission of GBAC is: Bringing together the scientific, decontamination, cleaning and restoration communities, to prepare for, respond to and recover from biological threats and dangers in an increasingly integrated world.
Prepare — Respond — Recover.

Q. What types of infectious diseases or infection control do you address through cleaning certification?
A. Our current online GBAC Fundamentals Class — Microbial Warrior Training is focused on SARS-COV-2 / COVID 19. With that training the frontline worker can apply the lessons learned to other situations such as the flu. Our more advanced trainings cover a variety of situations that involve biohazardous infectious agents.

Q. What is the best way to clean for COVID-19?
A. We teach individuals to follow a protocol. We call it the GBAC Response Protocol. You can find a copy of it on the ISSA Coronavirus web page ( One of the key lessons is that it starts with a site risk assessment. Where you gather as much information as possible to assist in determining what equipment you will need, the cleaning and disinfection solutions you will need and what PPE you will need, for example. We stress the importance of cleaning in preparation for disinfection.

Q. What are the best solutions to use? Bleach-based, Alcohol-based?
A. I do get asked that question a lot. I have to say it depends. You need to look at the situation that you are going to be cleaning and disinfecting. For example, bleach works great but you would not want to use it on many fabrics. Are you going to be manually disinfecting or spray disinfecting? Most importantly for COVID-19, make sure you are using something that is on the
EPA Emerging Pathogens N-list for COVID-19. In other countries, you will need to review what cleaners and disinfectants have been approved in your country.

Q. Understanding the nature of trade shows and their floor layout, what is the best approach to keep attendees safe from infectious diseases like COVID-19?
A. I am currently working with a group to look at this very question. We will need to address many different items, including, how we are setting up the floor, our cleaning and disinfecting practices, our infectious disease prevention programs (i.e. hand sanitization stations, temperature monitoring, etc.) and also something that we are calling our personal protection measures (PPMs). Our PPMs will come into play when we look at our social or space distancing requirements and that we may need to address in our programs. There is a lot to do, but I’m confident that together we can make it happen.

Q. What else can we do to keep our trade show workers, attendees and exhibitors safe? Any basis best practices to put forth?
A. When we launch GBAC STAR for Facilities on May 7, trade shows and exhibit spaces is one of the groups we are focusing on. As I indicated in the question above. There are many moving parts that we need to look at.

Q. What are some questions to ask of our cleaning providers to ensure we are cleaning correctly for an infectious disease like COVID-19?
A. Have you been trained? Where did you receive training from? What equipment and solutions are you using? Is the disinfectant on the EPA N list?

Q. Should we worry about HVAC systems?
A. You need to look at each situation independently. Each HVAC system will have its own unique design. Some recirculate air, some are single-pass air, some have filters, etc. IF you believe your HVAC system may have become contaminated you should contact someone who has experience with HVAC systems.

Q. What could we ask our attendees to do from a cleanliness standpoint to help us stay safe?
A. Initially, I believe we will all be asked to wear masks. We may need to go through a temperature monitoring checkpoint. These are all okay things for us to do to show that we all care for each other and want to do whatever it takes to reopen our businesses. We also need to remember to wash our hands (a lot), use alcohol hand sanitizer and DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!

Q. What’s the most cost-effective way to clean large spaces like trade shows? Are the costs exorbitant?
A. I believe we are going to see more of the spray disinfectant systems such as electrostatic sprayers. Also, it would not surprise me if we start seeing more automation and robotics in the future. Based on the growing demand, it will be interesting to see the industry react. I’m not sure what the cost implications will be initially, but as we see in many industries, costs tend to come down with new technology over time.

Q. What can we do as individuals to keep our spaces clean and COVID-19 free?
A. Remember to wash our hands (a lot), use alcohol hand sanitizer and DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE! Be diligent of cleaning, sanitization and disinfecting our homes, cars, our businesses, etc. Stay home if you are feeling ill. There are many simple things that we all have control of.

Q. What haven’t we asked that you’d like to share with our readership?
A. Cleaning for Health is going to be something that will be more prominent in the New Normal. It is important to remember that we are all in this together and that ISSA and GBAC are here for you.

Reach Patty Olinger at (847) 982-0800 or and for more on cleaning for COVID visit

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