Disinfectant fog is not your friend

By: December 31st, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

While a paramedic is providing care for you in an ambulance, he or she may be getting sick themselves.

A new disinfectant machine used by the Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) in New Jersey has caused complaints by some emergency workers, reported NJ.com, Dec. 25.

In May 2009, MONOC started pumping ambulances with the disinfectant machine that released pesticide fog. The dry mist has the ability to sterilize areas that may be unreachable with liquid disinfectant spraying.

The Professional Emergency Medical Services Association of New Jersey (PEMSA) started to get complaints from those who came in contact with the disinfected ambulance, complaining of nausea, migraines, headaches, eye and skin irritation, according to NJ.com. Deborah Ehling, who is the union’s president, said the disinfectant chemical being used is called Zimek QD.

However, Ehling and other industry experts are saying that the chemical itself isn’t causing the symptoms, but the method that’s being used to disinfect is the problem. According to NJ.com, the method being used includes taking the disinfectant solution and altering it into atomized particles that blow into the ambulances as a fog.

It begs the question if the fog is safe enough for exposure to humans. Labor and environmental advocacy groups feel that the way the fog is emitted violates the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), reported NJ.com. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is unable to distinguish if the fog is safe for humans once it turns into the dry mist.

MONOC performed tests on its ambulances to show that chemicals were below acceptable limits. OSHA also did tests on each ambulance. The investigation is ongoing, and MONOC is not using any of the machines until the investigation is complete, reported NJ.com.

Have you had a similar experience where technology caused unintended and possibly harmful consequences in your healthcare setting? Let us know in our comment section below.


By Cindy Winfrey on January 4th, 2011 at 10:24 am

Could you tell me the active ingredient of the pesticide fog? Thanks, Cindy.

By John Berino on January 4th, 2011 at 11:59 am

What is the name and model of the disinfection device? Is it using a peroxide based product? Was it being used according to manufacturers instructions?


The chemical used (Zimek QD) is a quaternary ammonium. It is a disinfectant, not a pesticide. The name of the machine is ZIMEK and it does not use peroxide.

By Jim Gauthier on January 5th, 2011 at 8:15 am

I still think appropriate glove use, and changing gloves when soiled, will keep the inside of these units clean enough to be disinfected the old fashioned way. Do we really need to fog the entire unit when only high touch surfaces are soiled? What is the risk of transmission from low touch surfaces to patients or paramedics?

By Alice Freund on January 5th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

This is overkill and could make people unecessarily sick. These disinfectants are sensitizers. And, yes, I have seen disinfectants (which are EPA registered pesticides)used regularly on FLOORS in hospitals, which routinely do NOT spread infection. They are only needed on floors in the event of a blood spill or highly contageous and high risk situation (patient with MRSA, for example)

By Eileen Senn on January 5th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

For more coverage of this situation go to “Union Fights Toxic Misting of Ambulances” http://www.njwec.org/W@W_NovDec_2010part1.cfm. There are links in that article to Material Safety Data Sheet and Label for Zimek-QD, the main disinfectant. The Zimek Micro-Mist System produces particles as small as 250 nanometers,according to their patent application.

Zimek QD is a pesticide product as defined by the Federal Fungicide, Insecticide and Rodenticide Act(FIFRA). It is an EPA registered product which places the product within the purview of EPA and FIFRA. Besides the quaternary amines, the product is comprised of highly caustic sodium metasilicate (a carcinogen)and tetrasodium ethylenediamine tetraacetate, an extremely caustic sensitizer.

Hey y’all. Jim Gauthier made a comment that may warrant an explanation of atomized or airborne germs can do. Think about the last time a patient hurled in the back of an ambulance, even if they did it into a trash can. If it wasn’t airborne you couldn’t smell it. Yes I can smell really well. Now, where do you think those droplets go. Everywhere, literally! The patient coughs and even if they covered up it can get out. How many times have you seen someone hack one up towards the back of the ambulance? For me more times than I can count, or want to count. Would I use these machines on every ambulance after every call? I doubt it. Scheduling them every month or 2 probably isn’t a bad idea. But I would definitely do it after someone hurles all over the back of my ambulance I would love to use this Zimek machine to make sure it was disinfected. From what I read about the Zimek machine you need to evacuate and replace the air, post fog, with fresh air.

There are proper disinfectant foggers available on the market that are completely safe and economical. Have a look at http://www.biocidal.co.za, a hydrogen peroxide based ‘dry’ fog that is fantastic for all uses. Non-toxic, biodegradable, + all the good stuff (incl. fraganced). It does not substitute wiping up the grime, but makes the environment pathogen-free. Safety Datasheets are available. Please have a look, hopefully some lives can be

OSHA investigation arm NIOSH recently published report that the claims made were not related to either the ZIMEK Machine or substance used. As I recall, no relationship between Zimek use and illness were found. Last report heard they were looking at CO2.
EPA on around 1/30/14 Labeled Vital Oxide for disinfection use with ZIMEK equipment ONLY. I believe VO is the only Class IV (least toxic) disinfectant ever to show disinfection by Fogging/Misting. The only device approved for fogging/misting by the EPA for such use in the Label claim is ZIMEK.

I looked into the chemical DSD and a thermal fogger for disinfecting , it too relates a mist / fog and is used to disinfect indoor facilities. Has anyone any experience with these and in particular the chemical disinfectant DSD?
Retired Firefighter

Thanks for the reviews, even though it’s April 2020, it’s still valued for me. I was going to get this fogging service done to my home and car (COVID-19) precaution. However, with these reviews I’ll pass.

Have there been advances in the chemicals and equipment since this post? Has it become safer? I am told that COVID-19 must be wiped, not simply sprayed as companies who have simply sprayed have failed their “post” treatment inspections. Anyone have updated info on the topic?

Looking for any recent data or research related to the use of portable fogger units like the Ryobi cordless fogger for disinfecting vehicles (police cars, ambulances) or facilities like fire stations, police stations, office spaces, spaces with electronics like computers… CDC has product recommendations but little on fogging.

We use a herbal based solution that has EPA approval for fogging even in food grade environment along with it being used in nursery areas you let it dry no wiping also it has a zero health rating no solvents no petroleum’s all 100percent organic it can be applied on the coils inside the AC system as well it has a 4-5 ph non corrosive again it’s made with herbal solutions no PPE required it sure beats the risk of H —or Quats all new owners of our business have to our proprietary solutions best of all it kills the virus in 30 seconds and bacteria in a minute even TB we switched from Quaternary ammonium solutions years ago after lots of research we tell people just type in dangers of quaternary ammonium into the search engines it will tell you the whole truth also the use of H- is not without risk expecially when it is fogged more research now coming to light on that as well we use 2 different formats for applications one is compressed air 80-100 psi with specialty fitted jet this really works great the machine can be placed outside you can ad hose as you need it the other method is portable like when we do jails when you have to be in a locked down environment hope this helps answer any questions for the folks that disagree i say that’s your choice I love ours majesticfcb.com

By Debbie A on May 19th, 2020 at 4:45 pm

We have an EPA Registered Disinfectant Cleaner to kill a broad spectrum of microorganisms in order to provide clean, sanitary, and healthy commercial spaces for use in a fogger unit. This product is a hospital-grade disinfectant cleaner that meets the EPA’s current criteria for use against COVID 19. deb.ayers@falconindustrialinc.com

Quats are notorious respiratory sensitizers, so its no wonder they had a problem…..same with hydrogen peroxide unless its aired out. I’ve been using chlorine dioxide for years….Class 4 disinfectant is safest for human reoccupation thats even FDA approved as a food contact sanitizer. Very powerful disinfectant at very low concentrations as it is a selective oxidizer with great material compatibility (does not damage metal, plastic, fabric, etc) even with heavy use.

Just another note in disinfectants and respiratory health…..an article published in JAMA in 2019 studied 50,000 nurses over 6 years that had been using disinfectants on a regular basis (some only weekly). They studied all the major disinfectants: bleach, hydrogen peroxide, gluteraldehyde, quaternary ammonia compounds….the result was an increase in COPD among 25-38% of nurses as an occupational exposure hazard.

I have questions about them fogging the facility where I work. Now that we are in the middle of a covid pandemic, my work has begun to fog the building to combat the combat the pandemic. Several co-workers have begun to experience a cough and a rash and other symptoms from this. I know they are using a chemical called virex plus 265 but they spray the facility after midnite and people return to work at five is this acceptable am I reading too much into this?? Anyway thank you for listening

Has anyone ever considered an organic, environmentally friendly sanitizer commonly referred to as HOCI (Hypochlorous Acid).

By Andrew Hesketh on June 26th, 2020 at 3:18 pm

Great read!

We are a UK business called FogClean and we use Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 Fogging. We are up against many new operators using small handheld units with little efficacy proof.

Majority of other operators provide data sheets for just the fluid, no efficacy claims when machine & fluid are used together. They also don’t discuss any type of efficacy levels or testing for sterilisation. We use Geobacillius spores with a Log-6 population, chemical indicators, TVC swabs and H2O2 detectors to log PPM levels during fogging and also confirm when its safe to reopen <1PPM.

A whole industry has popped up overnight…. but judging how long it takes our system to achieve a 6-Log reduction and for the area to return back to safe levels (2+ hours including dwell time & aeration), the handheld fogging operators that are reopening in 15 minutes probably aren't cleaning anything.

You can read more about what we do at the Fog Clean website https://fogclean.co.uk

Stay Safe


By Mousa Phillips on June 29th, 2020 at 9:25 am

Wow your point regarding zimek QD is completely new to us.

We are a uk based Cleaning & Removals company & have been battling through Covid-19. kindly email us with any more trustworthy info on zimek QD.

Also check out our blog on: Disinfection Fogging, we would like to know your opinion:


I think they are over spraying the chemical, aerosols can stay in the air for a while. It should be done when you have a few hours to rest or get a safe product like vital oxide.

By Phil Edwards on July 26th, 2020 at 3:34 am

With over 35 years as decontamination specialists I can advise that chemical “fogging” of QUATS containing ammonia will likely cause health issues for sensitizsed individuals. There is no combination of fogging machine and chemical that is approved for this type of indoor application. The purpose of decontamination is to REMOVE harmful substances not ADD them to the environment. Whoever you employ to protect your health please find a company that knows what they’re doing http://www.wkhelp.co.uk. Stay Safe!

By John Davis on August 14th, 2020 at 2:54 pm

We have also had some trouble with issues in our office building. They did electrochemical spray and fogging (not sure which chemicals) and some of the laptops were damaged and we could not go in for a few days because of the smell. It also had irritated my eyes and another coworker had issues coughing. Any other ways to clean inside without using so many darn chemicals?

By kalpesh mehta on August 15th, 2020 at 10:57 am

we have quarternary ammonium disinfectant, can we used it in fogging machine (50ml in 1 liter water)
if not then how to use it in fogging machine, any other like GLYCOL material works or not?

By Jane satterthwaite on August 20th, 2020 at 2:01 pm

does anyone out there use a safe fogging chemical? this reminds me of running behind the mosquito truck back in the 60’s

Let’s get the DDT out.

Has anyone looked into the organic, environmentally friendly sanitizer commonly referred to as HOCI (Hypochlorous Acid) as Mark has commented? A lot of dental offices are using this.

By Mark Zurevinski on August 29th, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Dry Fogging is not the issue. It has been proven countless times to be an effective way to deliver a disinfectant.

The issue is the disinfectant agent used which is concerning.

Everyone needs to spend the time to research what many consider the holy grail of disinfecting commonly known by many discriptives; anolyte or electrolysed water. Formally it’s technical abbreviation is HOCl and full name is hypochlorous acid.

There is no better product out there. Totally organic, non toxic, safe for humans, animals and the environment. 100% whimis free. Kills 99.9% of all known germs and viruses known to humans including COVID-19 and influenza.


We have just been informed our whole school district will be using bleach in electrostatic sprays. This would be used at least once a day, in each classroom, washroom, etc. I can’t find much information on the health impact this would have on staff and students…

By Patricia Cusack on September 5th, 2020 at 1:01 am

My workplace has decided to use a fogger . I work in a small school for children with special needs. The one and only day I was exposed to the disinfectant NuFoamacide being sprayed my eyes and skin became irritated and I felt as if I could taste it and began to cough. They stopped using it after a complaint to EPA but now are asking we use it again. Same chemical it’s a carcinogen and known to be irritating to eyes and skin.

My workplace was using a fogger with NuFoamacide recently . I inquired with the EPA if they were in violation because staff had no training on how or when to use it . I used it 1 time and it caused eye, skin and throat irritation ( coughing ). My other concern is it is being used while children / staff are out of room but still present in the building . The EPA must have come because I received this email and it sounds like they are going to be using the fogger again.
Dear staff,
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide an update regarding our cleaning procedures. We recently purchased two fogging disinfecting machines to ensure proper sanitation. They are being used in the classrooms at the end of each day with an EPA approved solution that is safe for all surfaces. Please refer to the link to review the specific information.


If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Nicole or myself.

Have a good weekend,

Does anyone have any information regarding if using HOCl (hypochlorous acid) is thermal or cold fogging recommended? I’ve seen both being sold but heard that thermal fogging deactivates the proteins.

I am a 13 years running Canadian Scbool Bus driver. After Covid 19 came along the higber authorities chose Power QUAT a product in the Quaternary Ammonium Compound family. WHIMIS sheets advise avoid direct breathing, wear proper gloves and wash up witb soap an right after a wet spray application twice daily in the complete bus. No ragging or mop up happens and where do we wash up 30 km away from the depot. Numerous donut outlets or fast food now refuse access to washrooms during anti C19 measures. Do officials consider the building up residuals on vinyl seats re rider or driver absorbshun. Nope they test it in the hugely diluted form within water (that evaporates) and therefore claim its non-toxic. Oh gee good enough to ingest or drink. Swell.

By Brett Wilkinson on September 21st, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Hi All. I’ve read these streams from the beginning. A few people inquired about dry fogging and hypochlorous acid. I’m a retired police officer and have recently joined a company with this solution. It is awesome and completed non-toxic and safe. A number of police services are using it in Canada. If you’d like more info from me send me an email at brett@hypocln.ca

Work switching from Vital oxide fogging to ?vitrex no msds available yet. We had headaches, malaise, ruined clothing, dizziness etc.. vo residue bleaches clothes. Health Canada says vo must be used full strength to kill SARS-CoV-2. Can we get organized on reporting symptoms?

By donna Cave Ginn on January 19th, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Mytson is in jail and the whole building was foged yesterday and he has been feeling sick and has a headake. Is this toxic

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