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188: Dan Lawson

Creating safer environments through electrolyzed water via electrostatic sprayers to maximize cleanliness in communities. President of Business Development, Dan Lawson shares how the Viking Pure natural cleaning and disinfecting solutions are positively impacting the senior living industry.

Viking Pure helped create a safer environment at the VIP Ignite Experience.

Lucas 

Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We have a very exciting and informative show related to infection control. This is something you’re definitely going to want to lean in and hear. We have a great friend of ours on the program. We want to welcome Dan Lawson. He’s the President of Business Development at Viking Pure. Welcome to the show.

Dan

Thanks for having us, very exciting. 

Lucas 

This is a part of many conversations that we’ve had. Obviously a worldwide topic of infection control given the recent outbreak of the coronavirus and many other issues that we face when it comes to infection control. Senior living is not new to infections. They have weathered many flu seasons, many different outbreaks, norovirus, and common colds. They all affect our older adult population. And one thing that I know that you’re a big proponent of, and I’m personally a big proponent of myself as I visit a lot of these communities, I want to see these communities be able to take the power back into their own hands, to control their own environment. And that is something that you’re an expert at. So let’s start by introducing electrolyzed water, also known as hypochlorous acid to our audience. What in the world is electrolyzed water?

Dan

I loved how you slowed it down and really enunciated that too, because a lot of people think that they’ve heard of it before. They think of electrolytes and water and things like that, that we drink. But it’s an old science. Electrolyzed water is a technology that goes back 50, 60 years. It’s been documented with a handful of uses and everything from healthcare, wound debridement, to food and different types of manufacturing processes, but it’s 10th grade chemistry. When we all come back to earth. What we’re doing is, we’re simply combining three elements together: water, electricity, and salt. The same type of salt that you would find on your kitchen table at home, sodium chloride. What happens is the salt is interacted with the water and the electricity at very specific flow rates and currents, and that salt separates into its two main ions, sodium hydroxide, and chlorine, or hypochlorous acid specifically. And what you get are essentially by-products of each other when you electrolyze water. You get a hospital grade disinfectant that’s called hypochlorous acid that will kill any germ, bacteria, virus, antibiotic resistant superbug, or fungus. And then the by-product of the hypochlorous acid is a cleaning solution, a degreasing solution that’s a bit different from a chemical perspective, but equally as safe and equally as effective as in the applications that you would intend to use in for.

Lucas

Josh, I know that you are tracking with that. You were writing down the formulas, you’re going to figure this out at home, and you’re gonna try to make this. I can see the wheels just churning. 

Josh

No. When you went somewhere around 10th grade chemistry, I think that was also about the time I flunked out of school. So you’d lost me…

Dan

Yeah, let me simplify it a little bit for you, Josh. We talked about the concept of electrolyzed water and my company does these cool things so that you can make this product on your premises. To really simplify this it’s best to just look at our natural body and immune system. Hypochlorous acid is actually a natural solution that your body creates when it’s fighting infection. Your white blood cells have this ability to mix the water, salt and electricity that you have naturally flowing through your body to create this amazingly powerful – what we call biocide – that will come in contact with a pathogen and kill it. You think of cuts, you think of the flu, or norovirus, or COVID, God forbid come into your body. Your body’s first mechanism of defense is to create the solution, swarm those germs and kill them. So although you may not be familiar with it, you’ve been living with it for the last, what Josh 25 years? 26 years? 

Josh

Yes. I love you more Dan, every day. I do. That leads me to, first of all, Lucas has been talking to me about this for the last year. He has indeed become a very big believer in it. I have as well, even though I don’t fully understand it even no matter how simple you make it for me. But my common brain, typically when I think of infection control, especially when I’m thinking in our communities and things, there’s so many different chemicals that we have, that we’ve bought, and you’ve got all these sheets to remember, all these ingredients. And then it can be harmful to you and your staff if used in inappropriate ways. And you’re always thinking about what surfaces I can use it on, what I can’t use it on. It can be extremely confusing at the operations level, especially in a smaller community when you don’t have a big staff and maybe a big maintenance department to help you understand the uses and things. But one of the things Dan, I would like for you to talk a little bit more about and help me understand, help the audience understand is something Lucas was sharing with me. Maybe it’s because your body does produce this, and this is fairly natural stuff, and simple chemistry, as you would describe, actually it’s a lot less harmful when used in the proper application. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Dan

Yeah. In summary, and the easiest ways that I can describe this, chemicals do not need to be deadly or dangerous for us or for our environment to kill germs. That’s one of the most amazing characteristics of hypochlorous acid. It’s very lethal to a pathogen, to a germ. But it’s completely safe for us. It’s safe for our surfaces that we want to apply it to. It’s safe for the plants and animals that we share our spaces with. Because of its safety profile, it can be used in ways that really traditional chemicals can not. We saw a lot of unique practices come out of the woodwork over the last eighteen months to twenty-four months. You see people spraying chemicals into the air, you see people with humidifying solutions.

 

I just pray that honestly they’re using hypochlorous acid in those different types of situations. Because spraying dangerous chemicals into the air has led to increases in poison control center calls. It’s led to increases in a toxic environment for those that are stuck applying these solutions on a day-to-day basis. But because hypochlorous acid is so safe, there is no concern for, is it applicable for this surface versus others? God forbid a resident get their hands on it. When a team member may turn their back for a second and either ingest it or spill it on themselves. There’s no risk of harm in that type of scenario. And that’s why we’re just so passionate about educating as many as we can specifically in senior living, because there’s not another safety profile out there that’s going to allow for the broad spectrum need, for the application of the device to create a safe space. But also balancing that just ever important safety component.

Josh

So Lucas, over the last year or so, you’ve been going into these communities of various types, various different operators. Actually, you’ve been doing some infection control, some clearing and things like that. I believe you’ve actually been using this quite a lot, not only at home, but also in these communities, is that right?

Lucas

Yeah. I’ve been using hypochlorous acid, electrolyzed water as a cleaning solution in my own home for the past six years. And just to give a little bit of a personal testimony, and this is a reason why I wanted to understand Dan even more and, and their products, even more because this is something I’ve been using very effectively in my own life. We have a special needs child that has a lot of health issues and our child can not be around chemicals. So, we were not able to use typically – most people have bleach in their house – right? Well, in 2021 we know that bleach is actually a very harsh chemical. It certainly has its applications in some places at some times, but we’re a lot smarter today. I remember back in the early 2000s, people used to think, well, you see some mold on the wall, they’re like, “just spray some bleach on it and it’ll go away. We know that that’s completely false and not the right application and not a good solution. And so my wife and I, because of our personal story, we did some research and we were able to find hypochlorous acid as a solution. We’ve been using it around our children and around our home for 6 years. And so when I met Dan, he told me that he had a commercial application for this. I thought, my mind was blown. And not only that, they even have a very specific prototype of the way that their technology is, actually creates and generates this. And Dan, we can go into that in just a minute. Before that, explain to the listener the difference so that, obviously in communities, I see the eco labs, the center, all these different big commercial cleaning applications, and multiple products in closets, safety data sheets and all that kind of stuff. Compare hypochlorous acid to just bleach. Talk to us about that. 

Dan 

Yeah.  That’s a very specific comparison and it’s an interesting one because a lot of people don’t realize this. But hypochlorous acid is actually the active killing ingredient in bleach. What you do with bleach is you store it at a higher pH, it’s called sodium hypochlorite, and when you want to create a killing agent with it, you add water to bleach, which dilutes it. It brings the pH of the solution down. And while you’re bringing the pH of the solution down sodium hypochlorite will actually transition from sodium hypochlorite to hypochlorous acid. The problem is that you have to keep it at such high concentrations in order to create an effective disinfecting solution that what you’re using is actually a toxic product. It’s a bleaching product and it’ll discolor or corrode surfaces.

 

What our machine does, is it isolates the most impactful version of bleach, the hypochlorous acid. It makes it pure, and it keeps it at a very specific pH, which allows it to be ultimately effective in killing pathogens, but safe. Safer surfaces, safer contact. I remember that conversation Lucas, when we first met. It’s an unbelievably endearing story, and I can imagine a very challenging one in trying to keep certain things out of the household.  I can personally relate on behalf of several of our customers who have transitioned from using more traditionally toxic chemicals for cleaning and disinfecting. And to hear some of their personal stories about no longer having a persistent cough, or the trademarks of an environmental service worker, having burns on their hands just as an aspect of the job because of the chemicals that they have to handle. Removing those things is tremendously gratifying for us

 

and it’s why we do what we do because. It’s not just about the residents, right? I mean, they’re an extremely important component, but we also want to protect those frontline workers who are responsible for creating a safe space. The effects of toxic chemicals are alarming. And the data is starting to show, specifically those that are delegated the cleaning and disinfecting responsibilities on a daily basis, they’re showing increases in asthma rates. They’re showing increases in cancer percentages down the line. And that’s what we’re passionate about. That’s what we want to bring awareness to.  We want to remove toxic chemicals from the environment. We want to present an innovative way of creating a sustainable model that allows for our customers to not have to rely on supply chain management and the storage of dangerous chemicals. But generate everything they need onsite safely and ultimately create a safer and better infection control protocol.

Josh 

I love it. So let’s talk a little bit, I’m reminiscing here a little bit with you guys because it wasn’t very long ago that we had our first celebration, VIP Ignite experience in Nashville. Dan, your team was there, very gracious, also extremely professional and actually helped us with keeping our environment safe. To be honest with you, I didn’t fully understand the chemical or what they were doing other than they looked a little bit like the Ghostbuster team coming in and taking care of us. And they were so thorough and so efficient, but honestly, 200 people in a boutique hotel. We had your team there cleaning the spaces in between each experience. I think it helped keep us all safe and healthy in that experience. And maybe you and Lucas, I know you all have worked together a lot in this capacity from using it in a commercial, because I know a lot of our listeners are out there probably thinking,  “hey, I’ve heard about this, don’t understand it. What’s the application? How would I apply something like this in my community?” And, and so forth. Can you all talk a little bit about that between the two of you guys?

Dan 

Yeah. Just to lead off an amazing event, a little over a month ago. I miss Nashville already. That was so much fun, and you guys did an amazing job. We were just so  fortunate to be a part of it. We were happy to serve. I mean that’s what we do as an organization. Whether it be our customers, or our friends in the industry, we want you to know that we’re here for you. And we certainly relish the opportunity to create a safe environment for everybody, including ourselves, right? But one of the technologies that we brought with us to that meeting in addition to the solution that we were spraying and killing germs, was electrostatic spray technology which many communities have invested in over the last year. These are the spray guns, the backpacks, the Ghostbuster looking type of technologies that allow you to emit solutions into the air.

 

We’ve seen a lot of, like I said, communities invest in this technology. It’s very expensive technology. We often get confused for electrostatic spraying manufacturing. We don’t make sprayers. We provide sprayers because again, the safety profile of our product allows you to extend on how you would normally apply disinfectant. You can’t spray bleach through a, well you can spray bleach through an electrostatic spray, you just wouldn’t want to, right? That would be unbelievably dangerous. And we’ve unfortunately seen similar types of things happen over the last year. But we’ve been promoting broad spectrum disinfection applications since me and my fellow business partner started this company back in 2014. It really just kind of came into popularity over the last year because of how easy it is to spray a large room.

 

But what our team was doing in Nashville was simply between gatherings going in and ensuring that we got maximum surface contact with our disinfectant. And you do that through electrostatic spray. What’s really cool about electrostatic spray is that the solution has a static charge that is added to it as it’s emitted from the gun. So when it comes in contact with a chair, or a table, or a wheelchair, or maybe in like a rehab room inside of a community, all the little nooks and crannies associated with a patient care area that disinfectant because of that static charge, much like when your clothes are staticy, will cling to surfaces and disinfect on contact. So what we did knowing that we only had a minimal amount of time between gatherings. We wanted to keep to the schedule. Our team went through and simply electrostatic sprayed the entire area, ensuring that we were touching the high touch surfaces with disinfectant to allow for a safe transition of crowds, if you will, between the events.

Lucas 

This brings to mind to try to complete the circle here. I’m trying to think of it through the listener’s perspective. Dan, walk us through the actual practical makeup. How is this product quote, unquote “made?” I think that if I’m being introduced to this for the first time, I’m thinking, “why do I need to know how this is made? Why is this in my community?” And kind of walk us through the reasons why it needs to be made, shelf life, things like that.

Dan 

Cool. Yea. Our technology seamlessly fits into the operational product processes in any community. I’m sure you’re familiar if you’ve ever been inside of a facilities closet, you see the chemical distribution system that’s mounted on the wall, that team members will go and fill their buckets. So that process actually doesn’t change. Instead of going to a toxic chemical distribution system, you go to the Viking Pure machine, which is installed onsite within a community. And it’s just like a home appliance. I use a dishwasher, oftentimes as kind of like a comparable appliance in the sense that it connects to a water source and an electrical source. And then with just the simple addition of salt that a user, a facilities manager, or an EVs staff member would add salt to the machine when it is necessary to create these two solutions, one cleaner, and one disinfectant.

 

Now the art of cleaning doesn’t change. They go about their procedures the same way that they would normally with traditional chemicals, they just use the Viking Pure products instead. So our products actually aren’t used any differently. They’re still sprayed on surfaces, wiped up, mop floors, filled with mop buckets, same types of applications. It’s just because of the safety component that you can do these other things. Senior living communities invested in electrostatic sprayers, they ended up buying an additional chemical to spray out of those electrostatic sprayers that they brought into their communities. With our system, they don’t need to buy extra chemicals. They don’t need to buy any chemicals. They’re going to generate everything that they need with the Viking Pure machine. They’ll clean as they normally would, but they can also fog electrostatic, spray, et cetera.

 

If you look at a team member’s cart, an environmental service member’s cart, traditionally, it might have 9or 10 different bottles on there. If you think you’ve got one thing for glass, one thing for floors, one, disinfected for bathrooms, one for food areas. There’s a bunch of different products. On our team members’ carts, there’s two products. It’s the Viking Pure cleaner and the Viking Pure disinfectant. And they utilize those two products in concert with each other to maximize cleanliness and get a certifiably clean and pure environment.

Lucas: 

So Dan, why can’t we run down to the hardware store or Wal-Mart and get some hypochlorous acid?

Dan 

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great question. So, you can’t go down to your local Walgreens and buy a bottle of HOCL because it’s a very weak acid and has a shelf life of only about 30 days after it’s been generated. So it wouldn’t make logistical sense to have bottles of this stuff sitting around. That’s why generating it on site is so advantageous because if you’re ever concerned that you don’t have fresh solution, you could just simply dump that bottle and go right back to the source and fill it back up. So that’s the basic answer to that question.

Lucas 

And when, so when you say it has a shelf life my understanding is it literally just turns back into the water, right?

Dan 

Yeah. I mean, it’s 99.9% water. That’s what I love about this stuff. Because you look at the ingredients list on any competitive, traditional chemical and it might give you the one or two agents that are responsible for doing the killing. And then it says, “98% other proprietary ingredients.” You’ve literally no idea what’s in it. You look at our ingredients list, it says, “hypochlorous acid and water,” it’s literally, that’s it. And if it does gas out, it reverts back to water. You’re absolutely right. There’s no additives, no preservatives. There’s no unnecessary fragrances or colors or anything like that added to our product. And there’s very important reasons why. I know that the term ‘superbug,’  has become common terminology in senior living, right? We see C Diff, we see MRSA.

 

We see these bacterial pathogens that have essentially developed a resistance to the antibiotics that we treat them with. We’re seeing the same phenomenon happen with disinfectants. Bugs, germs are learning to adapt to the disinfectants that we use. And the reason is the same in both parties. It’s these residues that are either left in our bodies or our food from the antibiotic antibiotic perspective. Or on surfaces from the disinfectant perspective that is allowing for this adaptation to occur. There’s a tremendous amount of peer reviewed, published data that shows that when products are either over concentrated or under concentrated, you present this opportunity for adaptive resistance. The way that it presents to the lay person is,  specifically in senior living, I always use this example. Have you ever felt the floor that was just mopped still feel sticky? Or have you ever wiped a glass window and you see like a streakiness or a fogginess? That residue is a biofilm from a clinical perspective. And if you were to pull that residue back underneath of that, there would be thousands of viable colonies of  bacteria that are just happily living there. So you don’t want residues on surfaces. You certainly don’t want the aesthetic nuisance of it, right? A resident, family members, or residents themselves,  don’t believe that their  apartment was cleaned. And that cleaning person is like, “I literally just mopped it.” They’re let down by their product. One of the biggest transitions I think that our customers experience when they adapt to these Viking Pure solutions is that those residues are removed from the surfaces. They no longer have those sticky sensations. They’re able to rid themselves of that and ensure that the solution, or that the rooms or the spaces have been cleaned. But they also know that they’re not kind of contributing to this adaptive resistance either by allowing the product to sit on surfaces for an infinite amount of time.

Lucas 

So I’m going to blow Josh’s mind, and I don’t think he even believes me when I talk about this. So as we’re kind of rounding out this conversation, I think that there are multiple layers of application here. So they have this generator onsite where literally all they need is salt and water and they can fill up a thousand bottles if they want in one day. There’s no like, “hey, we’re waiting for the supply to come in. We had an issue this week, we needed to do extra cleaning, and now we’re out of products. We’ve got to rush to get some.” No fill back up the tank, make as much as you want. One thing that I have done is I give bottles of this to my workers, and they can use it to literally spray their bodies, literally spray their hands, their face.

 

When I was first introduced to this over six years ago, it was a guy I went to church with selling a kind of a little home generator, right? And he took the bottle – I’d never heard of this before – he took the bottle and he literally sprayed it into his mouth. And I fell on the floor. I mean, I literally freaked out. I was like, “what are you doing?” I was like, “you don’t have to pull this dog and pony show and freak me out like this.” And I just didn’t understand it. There’s actually many, many case studies and applications as hypochlorous acid being used as a therapeutic in neti pots, spraying it and actually running it through your sinuses to help clean. I think it’s a common practice to not ingest it necessarily, but certainly spraying it on your body and things like that. Josh, you’re going to let me come and spray you down next time I see you?

Josh 

I’m sitting here wondering now, if maybe you weren’t joking when we got on the show before we hit record, and you said you just gargled with hydrochloric acid to get ready for this show. Now I’m thinking maybe you weren’t really choking. You might’ve really done that. 

Lucas 

I was not joking at all. I was just, before this recording, I was on a job site. I walked through, safely. I did my proper cleaning before. I had my bottle of hypochlorous  acid with me and my truck, and walked through a community where we were doing a job site. And before I got back in my truck, I sprayed my hands. I sprayed my face. When I came home, I felt like I wanted to do a little hypochlorous gargle. And so I did! Call me crazy.

Dan 

No you’re not crazy. I would never condone drinking, cleaning solutions. We saw where that got us. But it’s definitely a component of the product that you can use liberally, right? I mean you can safely do those things. It’s actually been studied in all of those different applications as a nasal sterilant, as a throat sterilant. Dentists use it as a mouthwash. Any type of an abrasion, that you may have or rash, dermatologic acne, spray it right on there and it induces a healing response. And I think you’re right though, Lucas. You don’t want to get too in the weeds about some of these crazy, or what seemingly are crazy uses of a product, and then talk about, “oh, by the way,  this is what you’re gonna use to disinfect your community with.”  But when people, they’ve adopted the technology and they research it, and they see that there’s more peer reviewed literature for the use of hypochlorous acid out there than any commercially available disinfectant currently on the market.

 

I mean, you could kill a tree with the amount of publications that support its use. So hopefully it continues to gain more traction. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that it is used in almost every aspect of industry. And it affects them personally. I mean, I often use the characterization of, who has opened the package of chicken and had that little reservoir of water in the bottom of the chicken package from the grocery store? That’s hypochlorous acid that they sprayed down the chicken with prior to packing it and shipping it off to kill any surface contaminants on the meat. So it’s a part of our lives. I just hope that we can continue to educate and make it a staple for everyone. 

Josh

Well Dan, thanks for taking us to chemistry class today. All our listeners will get a half CEU credit for this episode today for each download.

Dan 

I actually believed you for a second. 

Lucas 

Just email Josh. He’ll get it all taken care of.

Dan 

Awesome. That’s awesome. I really appreciate this opportunity. I’m very passionate about this and hope to transition that passion into a sense of urgency and have communities understand that removing toxic chemicals is possible. We no longer need to assume the dangers associated with what we think are the gold standard. Now they’re really not. And we’re going to hopefully continue to be able to show you that. 

Lucas 

Awesome. Dan Lawson at Viking Pure. We’re going to make sure to put all of your contact information in the show notes. Yeah, for sure. We love your passion around this. We want to help get the word out. It’s time for senior living communities to take back their community when it comes to infection control. And I think that this is a huge step in the right direction. We have other things available to us that have a lot of holes and may make people feel good, but don’t necessarily work. This actually works. And so we want to get the word out because it can actually help impact the environments that older adults live in. And that’s why we’re talking about it. Thank you, Dan.

Dan 

Ah, thank you, Lucas. And thank you, Josh. This is just such a cool experience. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep leading.

Lucas 

Thanks to all of our listeners for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.

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188: Dan Lawson