David G. Mason – The “Saniclean” Process: A Conversation with a Pioneer in Environmental Cleaning

Air Date: 4-24-2015|Episode 365

This week on IAQ Radio we will be discussing Saniclean: The Ultimate Cleaning Process! David Mason is the Senior Consultant, and President of Atlantic Restoration Services, providing disaster recovery services across the United States…

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This week on IAQ Radio we will be discussing Saniclean: The Ultimate Cleaning Process! David Mason is the Senior Consultant, and President of Atlantic Restoration Services, providing disaster recovery services across the United States.  Atlantic offers complete building and contents de-contamination services, and repairs property damage. He is a consultant for forensic building investigations, litigation support and for property damage restoration, and is a qualified professional for arbitration, subrogation, appraisals and court proceedings. He holds the RIA CR, WLS and CMP certifications along with the ACAC CIEC certification. Mason has spoken internationally on restoration and microbial remediation topics regarding the use of engineering controls and containment for mold and other remediation projects. Atlantic Restoration has Command Centers with warehouse facilities, along with contents processing plants, in Atlanta and West Palm Beach.

Clean Room

Clean Room

Mr. Mason has grown what was a tree cutting service into a full service restoration company with offices in Atlanta and West Palm Beach. His business evolution lead to his pioneering work and the development of the Saniclean process. His work within the cleaning and restoration industry and volunteer time with industry associations such as RIA lead to engaging people that had a wide range of medically related issues and affiliations that required a detailed and meticulous cleaning process. Through Dave’s interaction with allergists, Occupational Medicine MD’s and Indoor Environmental Professionals he built a reputation that expanded beyond his core markets in Georgia and Florida. The Saniclean process assures a healthful, hygienic indoor environment with exceptional indoor air quality. SANICLEANING focuses on the REMOVAL of contaminants, NOT the application of chemicals.



Z-Man’s Blog:

The proof is in the particle counter

Dave Mason has grown what was a tree cutting service into a full service restoration company with offices in Atlanta and West Palm Beach. An out of the box thinker, Dave has pioneered Sanicleaning a meticulous and detailed cleaning process specially designed to assist the recovery of those with medical issues. Dave’s reputation continues to grow he routinely works projects throughout the USA.


Gold NuggetsNuggets cleaned from today’s show:

How did you get into disaster restoration work? From tree removal/debris removal business he diversified into disaster restoration.


What piqued your interest in cleaning for people with special needs?

“My first Saniclean project was cleaning up mold for a client with emphysema.  I will never forget what a sad situation that was. The insurance company made no special consideration for her circumstances, and attempted to force a generic scope of work on her.” Working for clients with Medical conditions over the years.

Who pioneered working in this market niche?

I don’t know of any private firm, besides us, that specializes in this. The Sanicleaning process is basically applying the practices of clean rooms together with methods that hospitals use to de-contaminate OR’s, ICU’s and procedure rooms.

How do you price the service?

For the most part, we use Xactimate on a rate and materials basis. As Marty King always said, “cleaning is a process, not a result”; so we charge only for what we need to do. All the steps that will need to be taken are not always knowable until our continuous Internal Quality Control tells us how clean we are at any stage of the Sanicleaning progression.


Who usually pays for your services?

The patient or building owner. Sometimes if there is a water loss, sewage loss or mold growth, we solve that problem first. We obtain an assignment of benefits and bill the insurance company directly if it is covered.  The most dangerous contaminant always drives the project. For example, we will not worry about excess house dust until sewage is remediated first. This way the insurance coverage can help fund some portion of the specialty cleaning.


To whom do you market this service?

  • People recovering from surgery.  We can establish a level of cleanliness that is far superior to a hospital recovery room with newborn or premature infants.
  • Persons with respiratory problems or immune system issues that need superior Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
  • The elderly
  • Doctor’s offices, nursing homes, daycare centers, hospices.
  • Residents leaving their vacation homes after the season, who desire to maintain cleanliness, and monitor to control humidity the property is unoccupied.
  • Property owners needing cleaning bodily fluids after a medical emergency, or when a building resident passes away.


Must you determine the actual cause of the occupant’s difficulties in order to help them?

The majority of our clients our recovering from surgery or have definable medical conditions, such as cancer or emphysema.

Allergic people that seek treatment out of the mainstream of medical science our not our focus.


What is your goal?

To achieve the most hygienic environment that the budget of the project will allow.


How do you set and maintain client expectations? 

We evaluate the client while the client evaluates us. We explain that cleaning is a methodical process undertaken in a progressive manner. We note extenuating issues such as: smoking, pets (cats), hoarding, unsanitary conditions, etc. We document continuously before, during and at the conclusion of projects. We provide photos with explanations to clients in real time.


What does SaniClean mean?

Sanitizing by source removal of contaminants from surfaces, establishing and maintaining exceptionally good Indoor Air Quality in a building using a progressive cleaning process. Environments with pristine IAQ, no viable pathgogens, very low particle counts and free of IAQ contaminates.

Saniclean is an evolving process we constantly strive to improve efficacy and efficiency.


Do you have: good, better and best SaniClean options or does one process fit all?

Sanicleaning is driven by the level of cleanliness the client wishes and needs to achieve. Tolerance and budget controls the work progression. We follow a progression and we stop when we achieved the desired criteria. A good example of this is this stair step classifications that the ISO uses to rate clean rooms. Some clients need a class 10, some need a 1000.


“They say you don’t need a weatherman to tell you it’s raining.”

Clients who seek multiple opinions risk confusion and information overload and may overspend on testing and analyzing the problem, instead of spending their money on the cleaning.  If you enter a building and there is a coating of dust all over, you don’t need an ERMI to determine it should be removed.  If there is viable mold growth, the genera and species is not critical, because visible growth is not acceptable in an indoor environment. If sewage or biological contamination is present, that is addressed first, as the most dangerous contaminant is the focus of the protocol development.


Did you conceive the SaniClean process from scratch or did you draw from multiple industries and disciplines?

From many sources: standard remediation practices, clean room technology and hospital cleaning methods.


What does a clean room have in common with special needs building occupants?

Low fungal and particle counts. IAQ and surfaces free of bio-load are top priorities.


Do you do sampling or lab testing before cleaning?

Many projects have been tested before we receive a referral from a physician. We first review prior investigations if there are any and conduct an inspection with field testing to determine if further sampling or testing is needed. Sanicleaning utilizes continuous internal quality control using  laser particle counters, ATP, UV light, hydrogen peroxide and detailed white glove visual inspections.


What cleaning agents do you use?

We only use products that are needed to accomplish our goal. Each project is customized to our client’s needs and tolerances. We surface clean with high PH water, common detergents, hydrogen peroxide, quat cleaning solutions and we sterilize, if needed with a hydrogen peroxide plasma called Steramist®.


What cleaning equipment do you use?

We commission and constantly monitor all our filtration gear and vacuums with Laser Particle Counters as part of our Continuous Internal Quality Control. HEPA and ULPA vacuums, microfiber towels and pads, HEPA air scrubbers. We use electric leaf blowers to get dust out of nooks and crannies. We use the “Pittsburgh Protocol” for hard surfaces. HEPA vacuum filters 99.97% down to and including 0.3 microns. For applications that require even finer filtration, vacuums are available with an ULPA (Ultra Low Penetration Air) filter. It retains 99.999% of all particles, down to and including 0.12 microns. Dave prefers Nilfisk vacuums.


What are the steps of your process?

Each project has its own characteristics. First we assess the client’s needs by getting a basic building timeline of detrimental events, then inspect to determine what the baseline IAQ and surface cleanliness level may be, and begin with a thorough general cleaning by removing as much dust as possible. In that initial basic cleaning process, many subtleties are usually discovered that allow us to focus on more subtle problem areas that take the project to the next level.

  • Job 1, do no harm.
  • Starts with equipment purchase, storage, maintenance and transportation. New equipment is used for stringent projects.
  • Establish engineering controls, using HEPA filtered makeup air.
  • Continuous inspection and quality control during cleaning. Using Lighthouse® particle counters and Dylos® loggers
  • Work top to bottom.
  • Particulate removal is done dry to enhance vacuuming.
  • Leaf blowers are used to remove particulate from cracks and crevices.
  • HVAC system is disassembled and cleaned like a Marine cleans his rifle.
  • Keep cleaning until amplitude of particulate is flat.
  • Post remediation verification.

What about VOCs?

We try and eliminate as many sources of VOCs as possible.


What is your method for post remediation verification?

White glove visual inspection, ATP surface sampling, laser particle counts, Air sampling, tape lifts, swab bacterial samples or any specialty testing needed because of previous events that have occurred in the building.


Upkeep and ongoing maintenance?

It is preferred that those responsible for ongoing upkeep and maintenance witness or assist in initial decontamination.


Do you find commonality among clients, residences and geography?

There is more commonality in the conditions they have, than in where they are located. Having pets living in the home is very common among Saniclean clients.

“Dollar wise” what is the smallest and largest project that you have performed?

$2500.00 to $100,000.00


Others are marketing a course for cleaning for sensitive people, would you agree or disagree that you are chasing the same market, what do you know and do that they don’t?

I partner with mainstream physicians treating patients with recognized illnesses. I stress the use of desiccant equipment, Laser Particle Counters and utilize Steramist decontamination technology.


Do you plan to train others to perform this service? Only our staff and those responsible for ongoing maintenance.


Today’s music: “All About the Bass Parody”- “I Just Can’t Clean This Place” by Meghan Trainor, YouTube.


The Z-Man opines that Dave’s business choices are smart and practical. Dave goes far beyond cleaning for sensitized allergic people preferring to receive referral from mainstream physicians whose patients suffer from serious and definable health conditions.



Willis Whitfield

Willis Whitfield

Willis Whitfield was an American physicist and inventor. For what invention is he best known?



Clean room


Z-Man signing off