In the age of COVID-19, more people are taking the time to investigate effective ways to safely sanitize the various surfaces in their homes and common spaces. This has led organizations and individuals alike to investigate new disinfecting formulas that not only provide protection against microorganisms and viruses, but aren’t so harsh. When disinfectants are continuously applied they can adversely affect human health and/or pose an environmental concern.
This worldwide investigation recently captured the attention of two longtime Chesterfield residents.
Michael and Elaine Brauch had pursued very different career paths before the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year. Mike has owned and operated a nationwide janitorial services company, Interstate Cleaning Corporation, with his brother John for more than 36 years. Elaine, who has an extensive background as a chemist, had worked in an EPA compliance role with Missouri American Water, among other positions.
Their paths converged after many discussions about the skyrocketing use of harsh disinfectant chemicals currently being applied over and over, often many times a day, in homes and businesses in an effort to kill the coronavirus. Disinfectants, they both strongly believe, are only effective if used properly in the moment. Likewise, they believe disinfectants offer no lasting protection and are doing far more long-term harm than good from a health and safety perspective.
Several months ago, the couple began researching technologies as an alternative to repeated disinfectant applications. Their search led to an existing patented product called PRO-Techs, which is manufactured in North Carolina.
The Brauchs assembled a task force of scientific experts, including a critical care and pulmonology physician, to help them test the product extensively. They decided PRO-Techs is a game-changer and launched Microbial Solutions Unlimited in late May, with Elaine serving as CEO and Mike as chief financial officer. The company has the sole rights to offer the technology in the St. Louis area. They say independent lab tests show that with just one application, PRO-Techs can prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms on any hard surface for up to 90 days with 99.9% germ-killing effectiveness. Approved by the EPA for food surface contact, the product is water-based, colorless and odorless, non-toxic, non-irritating, hypoallergenic and safe around children and pets.
Compared to disinfectant chemicals, it shows better microbe-killing power on “high-touch” surfaces like door handles, light switches, stair railings and kitchen and restroom areas, even when these surfaces are wiped down with disinfectants hourly, the couple said. It can also be applied to HVAC filters and all kinds of fabrics – including cloth face masks – and can provide protection through 20-30 machine washings.
The long-lasting protective barrier PRO-Techs creates is “kind of like a bed of swords sticking up from positively charged molecules,” Mike said, explaining how the product’s “electrical kill” technology works. “When they contact the negatively charged cell walls that viruses and other microbes have around them, those swords spear them and kill them instantly.”
“Like many viruses, COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets,” he added. “If those droplets come out of a human and land on PRO-Techs, they’re dead on contact.”
As effective as they believe this technology is for fighting COVID-19, the Brauchs feel that finding a viable alternative to potentially dangerous disinfectants will also be important for future health and safety reasons.
“Overuse of disinfectants is not only dangerous to the environment. These harsh, toxic chemicals eventually damage surfaces and equipment, including sensitive and expensive medical equipment,” Elaine said. “These products are also harming people, and health experts are writing about it. The high level of disinfectant use is causing worsening asthma, irritating skin and breaking down the skin barrier, which allows more pathogens in. This has to lead to worse medical problems for people.”
“It’s been a poor (cleaning) technique that’s been used around the world, and it’s just not sustainable from a cost and health perspective,” Mike added. “There’s a better way, and we think we’ve found it.”