Decon7 is often asked about the history of D7. Although it was originally developed for defense and homeland security applications, we saw that this powerful chemistry had potential in other areas, including the food and biosecurity industry. To provide deeper context, we asked Dr. Mark Tucker, a key member of the team that developed the technology behind D7, to share his insights about the product.
1. Tell us about your background
I have a PhD in Civil Engineering with a focus on water chemistry and water microbiology. I worked at Sandia National Laboratories for 35 years, and my career was primarily focused on counter-terrorism issues related to chemical and biological warfare agents. I recently retired from Sandia and am now acting as Chief Scientific Officer for Decon7.
2. Tell us about the history of D7
Back in the late ‘90s, a religious cult released the nerve agent sarin in the Tokyo subway system, opening the U.S. government’s eyes to the potentially devastating effects of chemical and biological warfare and prompting new efforts in counter-terrorism. Sandia and several other groups were funded for a range of different technologies, including trying to improve our decontamination capabilities.
Sandia was specifically tasked with developing a broad-spectrum decontaminant with low toxicity and corrosivity properties that could be used against all known biological and chemical warfare agents. After about three or four years, the development team at Sandia came up with the decontaminating foam technology that D7 is based on.
As a government research lab, Sandia doesn’t actually produce products. If something is of commercial value or if the Department of Defense wants a very large quantity of something, Sandia licenses the technology to private industries for production and sales. That’s exactly what happened with the decontaminant foam that was licensed by Decon7 and is now known as D7.
3. How does D7 work?
D7 contains detergents that enable the hydrogen peroxide-based chemistry that kills bacteria and viruses to penetrate into grease, grime, and biofilms. For toxic chemicals, detergents help dissolve the chemical into the D7 formulation, where it is attacked and neutralized by the hydrogen peroxide. For biological materials (e.g., bacteria, viruses, and fungi), detergents soften the cell walls of the microorganisms, which allows the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate to the interior for a complete kill.
D7 can be applied in a number of different ways, including foam, spray, and fog*. The detergent in the formulation lowers the surface tension, allowing it to easily break into droplets and access contaminated areas that are difficult to reach.
4. What industries use D7?
In addition to military and homeland security applications, Decon7 has solutions designed to work in the food safety (including produce, dairy, poultry, seafood, and meat processing), biosecurity, and laundry industries.
5. How can D7 be applied in the food and biosecurity industry?
Because of its low toxicity and corrosivity, D7 can safely be used to clean food processing equipment and surfaces in food processing facilities*. The product can be applied as a spray, foam, or fog** and does not require mechanical action to remove bacteria and viruses. It can also be washed down the drain without affecting wastewater holding areas.
6. What did the expansion into the food and biosecurity industry look like?
In 2015, an avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak was traced back to live poultry farms in Minnesota and the Decon7 team was asked if they could help. Decon7 came on site and applied D7 to several affected barns and the company was very pleased with the results. After seeing how powerful D7 is as a decontaminant, the operators of the company asked if they could apply D7 on a regular basis to control more common issues such as salmonella, e coli, listeria and biofilms. Since the product was designed to work on a multitude of pathogens on hard, non-porous surfaces in many complex environments, it was a perfect fit.
The expansion into the food and biosecurity industry required rigorous testing and registration through the EPA in order to make the label claims that D7 kills specific bacteria and viruses. Once EPA approval was finalized, word about the power of D7 quickly spread among other food processors in the industry. The rest is history!
7. What makes D7 different?
D7 offers several advantages over other decontamination solutions such as bleach and peracetic acid. Although these solutions are effective, they are also very corrosive and have high toxicity. Because bleach is only available in aqueous formulations, it doesn’t penetrate into porous surfaces very well. Also, bleach is not as effective at removing organic loading, such as grease, grime, and biofilms, so it may not actually come into contact with bacteria and viruses. The detergents in D7 allow it to penetrate through organic material and kill bacteria and viruses.
Additionally, the reactive chemistry is based on hydrogen peroxide, so it’s much more mild on surfaces and materials compared to other decontamination chemicals. D7 also has the advantage of coming in a stable foam application that does not dissipate for hours, which is especially beneficial when treating resistant bacteria that requires a longer contact time. Aqueous formulations such as bleach will run down walls and vertical surfaces, making it difficult to achieve the necessary contact times. D7 foam keeps the reactive chemistry on surfaces for extended periods of time, including vertical and overhead surfaces.
D7 is also a more cost-effective solution: The entire decontamination process is less expensive, the product is more effective, it can be applied in a number of different ways, and the effects last longer.
*A potable water rinse is required after application on food contact surfaces.
**To be used for deodorization and non public health claims