Public Restrooms Are Ground Zero For Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has impacted countless families and friends but people aren’t the only ones affected. Public restrooms have become the newest casualty in the midst of the drug epidemic sweeping across our country.
Many drug uses know the bathrooms they can use and the ones they can’t so they move on. The problem is More and more and more drug users are taking advantage of this public space to get high. Large coffee chains, restaurant chains and especially gas stations are taking the big brunt of this abuse.
Business owners are taking note after seeing their restrooms littered with used syringes, drugs, and even dead bodies of the people who overdosed.
How Do Business Owners Take Back Public Restrooms
Using public restrooms to do drugs has put business owners in a quandary: Do they restrict access or do they continue keeping facilities open to the public?
It seems like there’s no right answer. While some establishments have resorted to closing their public restrooms in recent months, others have chosen to take a different route.
One answer to making it more difficult to use public facilities to get high is installing our LED Bacteria Blue Lights in the bathrooms.
Amazing Bacteria Blue Light Deters Drug Use And Kills Bacteria At Same Time
Public Restrooms across the country are installing Blue Lights in their bathrooms to deter drug use. The blue light keeps the drug user from seeing their veins clearly to inject. Our Bacteria Blue Light not only Deters Drug use it also Kills Bacteria in your bathroom at the same time. Our proven Bacteria Blue Light kills a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria including MRSA, Staph, Strep, Listeria, Salmonella and more
As an example EMS passengers sometimes harbor blood borne and airborne pathogens that can be spread to equipment, crew members, and surfaces within the vehicle. EMS vehicles must maintain a superior cleaning program that ensures passengers and crew members are not infected from previous passengers. Our new Special Bacteria Blue LED Light products help reduce the risk of infection within the vehicle and can do the same in your bathroom plus deter drug use at the same time. Plus, they will help protect your property and provide a safe restroom for your customers.
Blue fluorescent lights have recently been installed in the men’s bathrooms in the Downtown Spokane Public Library. The lights are seen from an empty first floor men’s bathroom on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
On a typical day in the Spokane Public Library, a custodian could be greeted by blood in bathroom stalls, needles in the toilets and paper towels spread everywhere.
Now library leaders are trying to put a stop to it by installing blue lighting in the men’s public restrooms, which are designed to make needle injections more difficult. So far, it seems to be working as evidence of drug use has decreased.
The blue lights make it more difficult for drug users to find a vein.
Researchers, however, say using blue lighting could lead to injuries in drug users, or spread disease.
Library Director Andrew Chanse said increased drug use in the bathroom is just one symptom of a larger opioid epidemic. He said the library already has installed safe needle disposal containers in public bathrooms, but people were still flushing used needles or leaving them in toilet paper dispensers.
“We’re really just looking for a solution to stop that from happening in our facilities,” he said.
Before the lights were installed, spokeswoman Amanda Donovan said the library was paying about $400 twice a week to fix plumbing issues caused by needles flushed down the toilets. She said the library hasn’t had another incident since the lights went up.
She said that to date, there have not been any overdoses and no patrons or employees have reported injuries due to needles, but the library restrooms need to be safe for the employees who clean them and the patrons who use them.
“We have sympathy for those who suffer from addiction,” she said, “but not at the expense of the safety of children and employees.”
Michael McDonell, a Washington State University medical school professor and researcher who has studied drug treatment and mental illness, said the small amount of research that has been done on blue lights shows that many drug users still will inject when there are blue lights, even if it puts them in danger.
“Once you’re down that line, that far in your addiction and you have that few options, you’re just going to do whatever you can to get the drug in your body,” he said.
One 2010 study McDonell cited found that out of 31 drug users, 18 were only partially, or not at all deterred by blue lighting.
He said drug users who have been injecting for a long time already struggle to find their veins. Making injection more difficult could cause people to inject multiple times, which can increase their risk of infection, or cause them to leave more blood in a public area.
McDonell said as a parent and a person who uses the public library, he understands why library leadership is looking for ways to deter drug use in their bathrooms, but without a safe injection site, people in desperate situations likely will keep injecting in public bathrooms.
He suggested the library, which hosts a community court to help connect people to housing, mental health and other health care services, put up signs in the bathrooms pointing people to treatment or the Spokane Regional Health District needle exchange program.
According to data from the exchange program, it accepted more than 900,000 needles and exchanged them for almost 950,000 needles in 2016. More than 60 percent of people who used the exchange program said heroin was their preferred drug.
Mall in Canada Installs Blue Lights In Bathrooms To Deter Drug Use
Maple Ridge, B.C Aug 6 2018
Haney Place Mall has taken public security measures in its washroom facilities, adding blue lights to combat drug-related problems.
Blue lights have been installed in the downtown Maple Ridge mall’s bathrooms to deter intravenous drug use in the public space.
Sandra Kaiser, vice-president of Smart Centers, which owns the mall, said Haney Place mall works with various groups to ensure security, as do all if its shopping centers.
“With respect to Haney Place Mall, specifically, we have proactively been working with the Fraser Health Authority, the RCMP, neighboring landlords and our security provider to ensure that we have the most appropriate policies in place to ensure the safety and comfort of our tenants, employees and shoppers,” said Kaiser.
Ridge Meadows RCMP said in a statement that it cannot comment on the blue lights at Haney Place Mall due to privacy issues.
“Police respond to all complaints regardless if they come from a private citizen or business. The RCMP is not in a position to speak about decisions made by a private company.”
Kenith Bursinger, Haney Place Mall assistant manager, confirmed that the mall had blue lights installed recently after customer complaints regarding the washrooms.
“The blue lights, in a way, help to hide veins. If you’re an IV drug-user, it’s that much more difficult.”Bursinger said the complaints were from customers, so the mall took action to ensure everyone’s safety, including drug-users.“If they can’t do it, they can’t die,” said Bursinger.
Types Of Bacteria Found In Bathrooms....Do You Really Want To Know?
Managers that know what they are up against can simplify the restroom cleaning process
It is a fact of life that we all use the restroom. And when nature calls, we expect those restrooms to be clean, functional and operational. As facility cleaning executives overseeing custodial operations, we have the power to meet these expectations.
You might think it’s common knowledge that restrooms garner some of the most complaints from building occupants. But in fact, some studies say that only 80 percent of facilities managers know that restrooms influence tenant satisfaction. Worse yet, research shows that the cleanliness of restroom facilities is greatly lacking.
A study published in “Applied and Environmental Microbiology” assessed the microbes present in public restrooms. Scientists actually discovered genetic traces of more than 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses in these spaces.
It’s stats like this that support the importance of cleaning and disinfecting. But even after cleaning, experiments prove that these surfaces don’t always remain microbe-free. According to researchers studying restrooms at a San Diego State University, California, within one hour of cleaning and disinfecting, bathrooms were completely re-contaminated with microbes and fecal bacteria.
Recontamination is one of the reasons these spaces often rank high on manager’s lists of the most challenging areas of a facility to keep clean. In fact, 56 percent of Facility Cleaning Decisions readers struggle with keeping restrooms up to par.
What types of bacteria and viruses are found in restrooms?
A list of 77,000 bacteria and viruses is hard for a facility cleaning manager to comprehend. It’s easier to accept the more prevalent contaminants found in a restroom: fecal bacteria, influenza, streptococcus, E. coli, hepatitis, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), salmonella, shigella and norovirus.
Indeed, there are so many germs and variables present in a restroom that it may not be possible to remove all contaminants. The facility manager’s best option is to plan to address and treat as many bacteria, microbes and contaminants as possible, then supply appropriate products and training to achieve the goal.
What are the most contaminated objects in a restroom?
According to a study published by Biocote, sinks were found to be the most contaminated surfaces in public washrooms. The radiator, tap (faucet), handrail, toilet paper dispenser, floor, side wall and the waste receptacle all rounded out to top eight surfaces harboring bacteria. It wasn’t until No. 9 that the toilet seat made the list, and behind the toilet rounded out the top 10.
It is a common misconception among many building occupants that the toilet seat would be the most contaminated surface in a restroom. But according to the findings, the toilet only measured 150 colony forming units (CFUs), whereas sinks measured 50,000 CFUs.
A review of lists like this could help facility cleaning managers prioritize their cleaning protocols and direct staff’s energies towards those surfaces that are frequently contaminated. The challenge is that the bacteria cannot be seen by the naked eye, so managers must train staff on frequency and proper cleaning procedures. Proper disinfection, on the right schedule, is the only way to minimize germs in the restroom.
Design and fixtures can minimize the problems that bacteria and viruses can pose. But also critical is good planning, training and follow-up with the cleaning staff.
Effective and efficient cleaning is not a haphazard process. It is a carefully designed process to ensure the removal of soil and contaminants from the environment, not the spread of it. Some key pointers to proper training of workers and cleaning techniques should include:
• Provide both orientation training and follow-up training for all cleaning staff. Clearly check that the proper procedures are being used each and every day. Consistency is key.
• Training should clearly demonstrate that cleaning procedures are part of the process of cleaning. In fact, all procedures, tasks, frequencies, equipment and chemicals are part of that process. Cleaning workers need to be taught to clean in such a manner that they never cause cross-contamination during the cleaning operation — cleaning from high to low, from in to out.
• Provide realistic training on the use of personal protective equipment that will minimize injuries and protect employees and building occupants. The frequency of changing gloves and cleaning materials should be clearly outlined so that the staff does not carry bacteria and viruses from one room or facility to another.
• Managers should outline clear expectations of what chemicals to use and how to use them. The training should meet or exceed all federal, state and local ordinances. Such training should indicate what chemicals to use, when and where. In a restroom, the use of a broad-spectrum germicidal disinfectant is critical and should be mixed and used in accordance with manufacturer’s directions. The training should also stress the dwell or kill time of the disinfectant.
• Workers should be trained to assume that all surfaces are contaminated, even though the contamination of each surface could be different. Emphasis should be placed on the minimization of cross-contamination from one surface to another. For example, a cloth used to clean a toilet or urinal should not be used to clean a sink. Many cleaning operations are using color-coded microfiber cleaning cloths and chemicals to minimize cross-contamination and to ensure the right chemicals are used in the right place and at the right time.
• The use of touchless cleaning equipment (pressure washers, spray-and-vac/squeegee, steam, and other such products) has simplified restroom cleaning. As these machines have become more compact and multi-functional, the proactive facilities manager will want to incorporate this equipment into their cleaning arsenal. These machines enable the staff to clean vertical and horizontal surfaces without touching anything, minimizing cross-contamination. The equipment also deep cleans grout lines and accesses hard-to-reach places much more efficiently and effectively than mops, cloths or brooms. This makes the cleaning worker’s job that much easier. Proper training in the use of equipment like this is essential and must be documented.
To provide a bacteria- and virus-free environment, it should be stressed that the cleaning of restrooms in not a one-time-a-day task. Instead, cleaning and touch-up cleaning should be provided depending on the frequency of use of the restrooms.
Restrooms are an important part of the facility and they need to be properly maintained. By having an applied knowledge of the types of bacteria and viruses in these areas, as well as the contamination and cross-contamination touch points, the facility cleaning manager will be able to implement an effective and efficient program for handling cleaning operations.
ALAN S. BIGGER has worked in facilities management for more than 35 years. His experience includes leadership positions at The University of Notre Dame (Director of Building Services), Earlham College (Director of Facilities), The University of Texas Health Sciences Center, University of Missouri, the South Texas Hospital, the Ohio State University and the U.S. Air Force. Bigger has been involved with ACUBSS, IEHA and APPA, and now serves as the Executive Director of The Simon Institute