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Environmental Health and Safety


Please visit the K-State Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) site for the latest updates, policy and information. 

Advisory for COVID-19 N95 Voluntary Use (Appendix D)

Alcohol-Based Cleaners and Disinfectants

Alcohol based cleaners are being used to disinfect technology equipment and alcohol may be also be present in various products such as hand sanitizer. There are many types of alcohol and not all are recommended for use on technology or as a hand sanitizer.

K-State IT recommends the use of 70% isopropyl alcohol for technology and this is being supplied in main classrooms throughout campus. Departments may also obtain 70% isopropyl alcohol from the Facilities Storeroom. Other percentages and other types of alcohols are not recommended. The product provided is 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% filtered water (synonyms: isopropanol, 2-propanol, IPA). Review the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for safety and health information.

Precautionary Measures

Alcohol is flammable.  Please keep spray application of alcohol cleaners to a minimum.  It is recommended that you spray the cleaner onto wipes/paper towels and then apply to the item(s) to be cleaned.  This lessens the amount aerosolized and may lower risks.  When using 70% alcohol, be careful not to saturate equipment.  Alternately, unplug devices and let dry completely before use. 

The video below illustrates a small fire ball generated using 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and an ignition source.  While this example has a constant ignition source, the potential is there with other ignition sources and sparks depending on the amount of product vapors present. 

The fire code limits the amount of hazardous and flammable materials that can be stored in a fire area. These are aggregate totals so the amount of hand sanitizer and other chemicals in the room or hallway also count toward the total quantity permissible (which differs depending on various building factors).  While it is easy to stay within these limits within a room or lab, if products are distributed throughout a hallway, maximum limits may be reached.  Contact EHS to have your area assessed if you will be storing larger volumes in one area or are installing multiple dispensers in corridors.

Do not dispose of excess product down the drain or in the regular trash.  Instead contact EHS for waste pick up.

Hand Sanitation

Proper hand sanitation techniques are important to lowering the spread of virus.  Hand washing mechanically removes pathogens and is thus preferred to hand sanitizer use, especially if hands are visibly soiled.  

If you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water, use a commercially available hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  When using hand sanitizer, make sure to get enough to cover all surfaces of the hand and rub hands until they feel dry.  Like hand washing, this should take close to 20 to 30 seconds.  Don’t rinse or wipe it off.  The KSU Hand Sanitizer Guidance provides information on product warnings, where to get sanitizer on campus, along with fire code and ADA requirements for dispenser installations.

Proper hand washing should take at least 20 to 30 seconds.  Lather hands thoroughly with plain soap and water and make sure to rub all parts of your hand, fingers, fingertips, thumbs and wrists before rinsing them under running water.  Figure 1 provides recommended steps for thorough cleaning (count to five slowly for each step or hum the birthday song twice).  You don’t need to use antibacterial soap.  According to the CDC, there is currently no evidence that consumer antibacterial soaps are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. View KSU video aid and CDC Hand Washing Basics (YouTube).

Wash with soap and water after using the restroom. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, and upon entering and departing common areas and places of high traffic (e.g., elevators, stairwells, service desks, printer and mail rooms, vending machine and break areas, and food establishments).  

 Hand Washing Steps.  Source: WHO

Figure 1 - Hand Washing Steps.  Source: WHO

Face Coverings

Review the KSU Face Mask Guidance and Face Covering Policy.  Wearing a face covering helps keep expelled droplets close to the source and may even contain some aerosols (Figure 2).  Healthcare professionals have worn face masks for over a hundred years to protect themselves and patients.  Learn about the differences between face coverings and respirators used in the workplace.      

Image of expelled droplets from masked and un-masked person.

Figure 2 - Visual representation of expelled air while wearing and and not wearing a face mask.  Source:  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Important:  Face coverings and respirators with exhalation valves are not acceptable for use in the prevention of community spread of COVID-19 because they allow expelled air from the wearer to exit the face covering.

All employees must take the Come Back 'Cats — Reopening Kansas State University training.  

Respirator Availability

Due to high demand for N95 respirators, availability, cost and lead times are affected and it may be difficult to obtain respirators for campus use.  Many vendors are offering alternatives, including KN95 respirators.  Some of these respirators do not meet NIOSH or FDA requirements and/or may fail to form a tight fitting seal to the face, providing inadequate worker protection.  Contact EHS for guidance and to review product numbers of products you plan to purchase to ensure they will meet workplace safety requirements.  Additionally, some vendors are requiring large volume orders.  EHS and Facilities Storeroom can work with departments to ensure stock of acceptable respirators.  

COVID-19 Supplies

Depending on availability, face masks, face shields, and sanitation and cleaning supplies are available from the Division of Facilities Storeroom. Visit the storeroom COVID Supplies webpage to order.