Most people outside the professional cleaning and infection control industries and the adjunct industries haven’t heard the term “biofilm.” But, this film is the basis for all soiling and contamination within the living and work environment. Where does this biofilm come from? This is a question we at Crime Scene Cleaners KC have had to ask and learn the lessons in order to properly clean and sanitize the affected areas in our crime and trauma scene cleanup work or what we call forensic restoration.
Biofilm comes from two main sources, human activity and bacterial activity. Combined they form on a surface and continue to build into soiling you can see.
Here is how this works. Humans are fat. I’m not necessarily speaking to people who are overweight but rather the substance that makes us overweight, namely lipids and no matter how much you weigh, us all have lipids. Most of us know of lipo-suction where they literally suck the fat cells out of a person. Those lipids run through every part of the body. They are in your hair, skin, tears, nasal secretions, breath, saliva, blood and our waste. If you place your hand down on a surface and raise it up and look at the surface you will see an outline of your hand. You have just placed what most call hand-oil on to the surface. That hand-oil called, esters, a liquid form of lipids. That’s what you wash off your face and hair. We also place lipids on each surface with our breath. As we breathe, the air leaving our body is laden with lipids. Now that the lipids are on our surfaces and the moisture begins to evaporate the lipids become sticky. (Ever had blood between your fingers and as it dries you feel the stickiness?)
Being sticky on a molecular level it begins to attract micro-pollutants and bacteria floating through the air. Here is where the bacteria come into play. Once the bacteria is on the surface it begins to replicate producing a very sticky substance of a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances, meaning goo in laymen. A bacterium grows at an exponential rate. One bacterium on the surface continually divides to 2,097,152 in just seven hours. In twenty-four hours it divides to 4.7 sextillion, that’s 4.7 with 17 zeros behind it.
These two substances are continually growing through the human and bacterial activity attracting more and more micro-pollutants. The longer the biofilm lays on the surface it begins to harden into layers. Also, this bacteria laden biofilm is continually spread through our touching the surface and then touching yet another surface depositing the biofilm from one area to the next.
We start to see biofilm as our surfaces start to dull, or you see a dingy dark substance around cabinet handles, door knobs or light switches. I clean my kitchen counter tops at least twice a day…it takes just a few minutes. Yet, I’ve cleaned counter tops in a hoarder house roughly the same area and it has taken me several hours, why? The biofilm was deep and extremely hard and you have to work through those hardened layers. Here’s one more example; tooth plaque is biofilm on your teeth. The longer you wait between dental visits the harder the plaque is to remove and the more damage it generates.
The technicians at Crime Scene Cleaners, LLC in the Greater Kansas City Area are routinely trained in the science of cleaning and restoration. Our goal is to create sanitary surfaces within the built environment whether we are remediating are as affected by suicide, homicide, unattended death or performing infection control services in homes and businesses.
If you have an incident requiring a high level of expertise we have the training experience and equipment to properly perform the work; please call Crime Scene Cleaners at (816 or 913)-808-7642 or find us on the net at www.crimescenecleanerskc.com
By Don M. McNulty, MBT AT- OSHA, MTC ©COPYRIGHT 2018