A antimicrobial pesticide under consideration as a treatment for bed bugs is now considered an effective disinfectant treatment for trucks whose drivers have been confirmed as COVID-19 carriers, according to the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council.
TMC was already in the process of updating Recommended Practice 443 from the S.4 Cab & Controls study group when the novel coronavirus made the front page. The RP dates back to 2104 and was being updated to include new recommended practices for treating bed bug infestations with Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2). TMC accelerated the update in order to provide fleets some guidance on how to manage cab disinfecting and sanitizing for coronavirus.
"Initially we were looking at chlorine dioxide as way to kill bed bugs, but we found that it would work just as well for viruses," said Kirk Altrichter, executive vice president of Fleet Services at Kenan Advantage Group and a member of the committee working on the RP, in an interview with HDT. "We want to finish the update as quickly as we could to get it out there for everyone."
According to CLO2 Remedies of Las Vegas, one supplier of the product, "Chlorine dioxide is a chemical compound made up of one atom of chlorine and two atoms of oxygen. It [shouldn't be confused] with typical household chlorine bleach or HTH. Chlorine dioxide is actually an oxidizing agent, not a chlorinating agent. Unlike alternative chemicals, ClO2 reacts with organic matter through selective oxidation rather than substitution and does not produce carcinogenic chlorinated byproducts."
A PDF published by the company claims the product is an effective antimicrobial pesticide that can be used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces.
CL02 is not something you'd use for casual cleaning, or even to sanitize a truck before a driver starts a shift. However, it could be used when disinfecting a truck after a driver has been confirmed as a COVID-19 carrier.
“When it comes to cleaning a truck after a driver has been confirmed with COVID-19, we bring somebody from the outside to do a biohazard cleanup,” Altrichter says. “That cleanup is something you can do yourself, but it requires specific protective equipment, and frankly, our shop and our technicians aren't equipped to handle it properly.”
Altrichter says CLO2 would be an alternative to letting the truck sit for some period of time, perhaps four or five days, after the last contact with the infected driver. “It depends on how badly you need the truck back in service and what you believe is a safe period of time for the virus to die off on its own.”
Estimates from various sources suggest the virus can remain viable on porous surfaces like paper or cardboard for up to 24 hours, and for 48 to 72 hours on less permeable surfaces such as plastic, glass, or steel. Traces of live virus have been discovered on some surfaces after as many as nine days in some instances.
“I’d really like an answer to the question of how long the virus can survive without a host; is it three days, five days, nine days?” he asks. “It makes a difference in how we approach this problem.”