Bypassing the supply chain, Anchorage School District producing its own, safe, effective, disinfectant

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:57 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When the Anchorage School District finally opens it’s doors to students they’re going to be using hypochlorous acid to clean all their buildings and classrooms.

“It’s really the disinfectant of the 21st century and it’s going to leave all the others that we would have used behind.” Says Rob Holland, Director of Operations for ASD.

That specific product, hypochlorous acid, is safe, effective, hospital grade, but also difficult to source during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We were buying that in solid tablet form, but the supply chain just kind of ran down,” Holland said.

Facing unacceptably long wait times and unreliable delivery dates Holland posed a unique solution. Instead of ordering this product in mass, he pitched the idea of buying a machine to make it right here in Anchorage.

“I started looking into this technology and what we found is, we can free ourselves of that supply chain, and just be done with it and be self-reliant,” Holland said.

According to Holland, the initial cost for a hypochlorous generator big enough to handle the needs of the entire Anchorage School District comes with a hefty $30,000 price tag. That is for all the components and redundancy parts needed to keep the supply of disinfectant running. Despite the expense, Holland believes it will be a cost-saver in the long run. Hypochlorous acid can go for as much as $40-$50 dollars a gallon depending on the parts per million you purchase it in, with this new generator the district will be able to produce a gallon of the needed strength for around as little as one penny. As an added bonus, it’s not nearly as harsh on skin or surfaces as something like bleach.

“It’s a hospital grade level. It’s a broad-spectrum disinfectant, but it’s incredibly safe product.” Says Holland. In fact, hypochlorous acid is something found in the human body already, produced by white blood cells to kill invasive organisms.

As it turns out, this combination of safer, softer disinfectant with what will ultimately be a cheaper overall price tag and more dependable supply line is garnering attention. The Anchorage Fire Department was already looking into this sort of technology and they have now partnered with ASD.

“We’re using bleach products for disinfecting for Covid-19, our equipment like our poppers and a lot of our sensitive medical equipment does not like bleach, hypochlorous acid on the other hand will be a lot more gentle on our equipment, and our personnel and our PPE.” Says Battalion Chief James Dennis of the Anchorage Fire Department.

It’s a marriage that differs the costs even more and ensures supplies to the schools and the firehouses in Anchorage. “I think it’s important and imperative that in these new times that we look for new solutions to work together to find the best way forward in being self-sustainable as a municipality, and as a school district.” Says Battalion Chief Dennis.

It’s an innovative step that could make things cleaner, safer, and even a little cheaper for students, faculty, and firemen in the Anchorage Municipality.

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