WNS nylon decontamination discussion

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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby NZcaver » Mar 12, 2009 11:26 pm

On Tuesday, while I was on the batcount with Craig Stihler, he mentioned that a researcher in New York: Warden Stone, had found that a 2x dose of Lysol will kill the geomyces fungus. It wasn't until today that I could track down Stone's contact info and talk to him myself. He confirmed that Lysol will work and that it is a far better solution that bleach, which can damage gear. Note that he also confirmed in that phone conversation that bleach HAS been tested against the fungus and it DOES kill it. He also mentioned another way of decontaminating the gear, but I was unfamilar with the substance and can't remember the name right now.

Yes, Lysol has been recommended as an effective option. Myself and others used this a year ago when conducting WNS surveys in northeast caves and mines.

Another substance was recommended to me by a northeast caver and bat researcher, and is apparently quite effective against the fusarium/fungus and generally safe for your gear (although the effects on nylon need to be formally investigated). It's chlorine dioxide. I'm told it's safe enough for humans to ingest, but can be a little tricky (and potentially explosive) to concoct. I'm no chemist, but luckily this guy who made a batch of it knows what he's doing. Incidentally, the EPA says it's also effective against anthrax.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby karstmd » Mar 12, 2009 11:35 pm

Please note I was just passing on the information for Bob Zimmerman who tracked down the source. He posted it on the four DC area listserves as well. Procedures to follow when he can squeeze them from the researcher.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Todd » Mar 12, 2009 11:40 pm

I was wondering about an iodine based product called idophor. I have no idea what it might do to nylon, but I use a dilute solution to sterilize home brewing equipment and it does a great job for that.
It seems to stain any plastic it touches, so that may not bode so well for nylon, but it's recommended contact time is only two minutes. (I usually go for 5 just to be safe)
I realized I needed to get some more of it this evening, which got me thinking about it's use for WNS.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Phil Winkler » Mar 13, 2009 8:30 am

Lysol is made in a variety of different formulas and I think the one best suited for our decon purposes is one that contains phenyl-phenol. http://www.hescoinc.com/Msds/ly02500.pdf

When working in a mycology lab in school we would wipe the countertops every afternoon with a 5% phenol solution in an attempt to eliminate contamination. Overnight the room was bathed in ultraviolet light to further destroy spores and fungi.

Guess what? We were the 3rd class to pass thru this mycology lab and our contamination rates were triple that of the first class. Fungal spores are extremely difficult to destroy. Our methods required us to wet the countertops with the phenolic solution and leave them wet for 5 minutes.

Ask someone with athlete's feet how hard it is to eliminate.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby karstmd » Mar 13, 2009 12:02 pm

Posting again for Bob Zimmerman:
Yo all,

Here are a few more details on decontamination. Ward Stone, Wildlife Pathologist at the Wildlife Pathology Unit for the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, has been testing a variety of substances for their ability to kill both the geomyces spore and active fungus. He has learned the following:

1. Geomyces is a "cold loving fungus that is killed after 20 days at 37 C." It is therefore unable to grow on humans, birds, other mammals, or even bats when they are not in hibernation. Moreover, if one does some simple cleaning and drying of one's gear, it is probably impossible for it to survive the transfer from cave to cave. However, the fungus likes the cave environment and, as Tom Tomasi of Missouri State University told me yesterday, this means that we must consider the cave, not the bats, as being infected. To avoid carrying the fungus from cave to cave, we must definitely disinfect ourselves and our gear after each trip.

2. Stone has confirmed two disinfectants that kill the fungus effectively and can be used to clean gear such as boots, ropes, coveralls, gloves, vertical gear, etc. These are:

a. Lysol, mixed in water at a double dosage, which is a 1 in 64 concentration, or two ounces per gallon. The product, which is available in most supermarkets, can also be found here: http://www.reckittprofessional.com/index.jsp

b. Promicidal, which he says his agency has been using for more than a year, and find very effective. From what I can gather, promicidal is a germicidal detergent. It has its own negatives, such that one doesn't want to let it wash into any natural water systems or streams. Go to this webpage for a pdf of its label instructions and warnings: http://www.kellysolutions.com/erenewals ... _42_PM.pdf

3. He expects that by Monday he will confirm a third disinfectant, Grenadier, that also works to kill geomyces. See this page for a product description:

http://www.chemsearch.com/productDetail ... p%3E%0D%0A

As Stone noted in an email, "I do not reccomend these for use in mines or caves, or where the disinfectants will contaminate drinking water or waters containing fish and wildlife, or utilized as drinking water by wildlife and/or domestic livestock. They can be used judiciously for killing fungal elements on things like boots, ropes, nets, hard hats, gloves, and equipment surfaces that can tolerate the disinfectants. They are also good for disinfecting trucks, other vehicles and floors, and refrigerators. Let common sense prevail in their use."

As I noted in an earlier email, this email can be forwarded freely to other listservs.

Bob
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby karstmd » Mar 13, 2009 12:10 pm

Again for Bob Zimmerman:
Yo all,

In response to my earlier email on decontamination, Greg Turner of the Pennsylvania Game Commission sent me the following:

"Yes, promicidal and Lysol are now approved since Ward Stone has shown in the lab that they work to kill the fungus. I attached PA's new updated protocol that reflects the use of Lysol. Lysol would appear to be less likely to cause damage on vertical gear...but I have not inquired myself or heard of anyone who has directly asked the manufacturers if this is true."

Pennsylvania Game Commission

Bat Handling/Disinfection Protocol for Summer Bat Field Studies
Developed March 2009

These guidelines are for researchers and contractors who will be conducting summer bat studies in Pennsylvania that involve catching and handling bats. White Nose Syndrome (WNS) continues to spread aggressively among bat populations in northeastern states. To minimize the potential transmission of WNS while handling bats (both handler-to bat and bat to bat), cautionary procedures must be implemented. Any equipment that comes in contact with bats has the potential to be a vector for spread of WNS (for example, mist nets, harp traps, bat bags, wing punches, weighing tubes, rulers/calipers, gloves).

At this time WNS has been confirmed or is suspected in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. These bats will disperse over a larger geographic area during spring and summer. At this time, any equipment used in another state is potentially-contaminated and must be decontaminated prior to use in Pennsylvania.

Approved Products for use in WNS Disinfection
The following are the ONLY products that have been laboratory-tested and verified as effective against the WNS-associated fungus:
Bleach @ 10% solution (1part bleach: 9 parts water)
Professional Lysol Antibacterial Cleaner @ 1:128 (recommended concentration for cleaning and sterilizing) http://www.reckittprofessional.com/index.jsp
Professional Lysol Antibacterial Cleaner @ 1:64 (recommended concentration for disinfecting)
Promicidal (one ounce of promicidal per gallon of water)

Disinfection Protocol – Moving Equipment Between Sites

Moving from Unaffected County to Another Unaffected County
Strict decontamination protocols are required when moving between unaffected counties. These protocols are required as part of an attempt to slow unknown early contamination in an area,

All attempts should be made to use new gear in unaffected counties. Previously-used equipment that cannot be sanitized as described will not be transported to an unaffected county.

Prior to use, all hardware and soft sided equipment (traps, nets, handling gloves, and bat retention or measurement equipment) shall be
1.washed/rinsed free of coarse debris
2.sanitized by submerging in an approved disinfectant at an approved concentration for at least 10 minutes
3.rinsed at least two times
4.air-dried prior to use in a new county.

Field clothing and boots must be cleaned when moving to a new county. Field clothing and footwear used will be washed/scrubbed in hot soapy water.

Any non-porous equipment that was used in an affected state or site cannot be used unless it has been decontaminated as described above prior to being transported into an unaffected county. Nets, catch bags, holding bags, bat handling gloves, and other porous bat handling gear may not be used in unaffected counties after being used in an affected county.

Moving Within an Unaffected County
Strict decontamination protocols are required even between sites within unaffected counties. These protocols are required as part of an attempt to slow unknown early contamination in an area, All used equipment must be sanitized between sites, just as when moving from unaffected county to unaffected county.

Unaffected Hibernacula - see “Hibernacula” section
Leather/cloth footwear used at affected hibernacula and bat handling gloves worn in affected counties cannot be adequately sanitized and therefore cannot be worn at sites in unaffected counties. We suggest using rubber boots/gloves or disposable gloves when working around all hibernacula.
NO UNSANITIZED EQUIPMENT OR CLOTHING MAY BE TAKEN INTO UNAFFECTED HIBERNACULA OR USED AROUND ENTRANCES OF UNAFFECTED HIBERNACULA.

Moving Within Affected Counties and Between Affected Counties
Within affected areas, all soft-sided equipment including nets, cloth bags, gloves and footwear must be washed in hot soapy water and surfaces cleaned with an approved disinfectant between sites, rinsed and air-dried. Before leaving an affected county to enter an unaffected county, all hard-surfaced equipment must be sanitized as mentioned above in Moving from Unaffected County to Another Unaffected County

Reminder: Nets, catch bags, holding bags, bat handling gloves and other porous gear may not be used in an unaffected county after being used in an affected county.

Hibernacula
Optimally, all caving gear will be sanitized prior to leaving hibernacula. If this is not possible, strict storage of used/dirty gear must be maintained within transport vehicles to avoid cross contamination of clean gear and contaminated gear. Upon exiting the hibernacula, gear will be removed before entering vehicle and double bagged before placing in vehicle for later decontamination at field headquarters. Under no circumstances will decontamination be conducted at new hibernacula prior to surveys.

Caving suits and packs must be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water until free of soil then sanitized by soaking in an approved disinfectant for a minimum of 60 minutes, rinsed at least twice and air-dried. Many items such as cameras cannot be decontaminated and should not be taken into unaffected hibernacula.

Hibernacula in Unaffected Counties
Prior to use, all equipment (traps, nets, bags, helmets, lights etc.) must be sanitized for each site by washing off all soil and then soaking in an approved disinfectant solution for a minimum of 10 minutes and rinsed twice.

Field clothing must be cleaned of soil, sanitized and washed in hot soapy water. Rubber boots may be used repeatedly if cleaned of soil and sanitized by soaking in an approved disinfectant for a minimum of 10 minutes and rinsed.

Reminder: Nets, catch bags, holding bags, bat handling gloves, leather and cloth footwear and other porous gear may not be used in unaffected hibernacula after being used in an affected county. Caving suits and packs used in affected counties are not permitted. Disposable coveralls, disposable equipment, and hard shell boxes are recommended.

Hibernacula in Affected Counties

All porous equipment including nets, cloth/catch bags, gloves and footwear must be washed in hot soapy water and surfaces cleaned with an approved disinfectant between sites, rinsed and air-dried. Before leaving an affected county to enter an unaffected county, all equipment must be sanitized as mentioned above in: Moving from Unaffected County to Another Unaffected County

Optimally, contaminated gear will be sanitized prior to leaving hibernacula. If this is not possible, strict storage of contaminated gear must be maintained within transport vehicles to avoid cross contamination between clean gear and contaminated gear. Upon leaving a site, contaminated gear, coveralls, boots will be removed before entering vehicle and double bagged before placing in vehicle for later decontamination at field headquarters.

Caving suits and packs must be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water until free of soil then sanitized by soaking in an approved disinfectant solution for a minimum of 60 minutes, rinsed at least twice and air-dried.
General Bat Handling and Decontamination Guidelines

Bags and Gloves

Bats should be kept in bags rather than holding cages. To avoid cross-contamination of samples, it is imperative to keep bats separated and holding bags as clean as possible. Non-disposable holding bags should be used only once during a night of field work and should be washed and dried before reuse, following procedures listed below. Disposable bags are preferred. Paper bags are an option for holding bats temporarily, but may not be reused. If bats will be held just long enough to process the animal, a plastic bag could be used. Disposable gloves should be worn over handling gloves and swapped out regularly throughout the night.

After each night of netting (or prior to next night of use), non-disposable bags and gloves should be disinfected as follows:
1.While still at worksite, remove heavy soil deposits from surface.
2.Soak in an approved disinfectant solution with detergent as a surfactant for 10 minutes.
3.Rinse two times
4.Dry completely

Hard-Sided Equipment

Use an approved disinfectant solution to sanitize all equipment that comes into contact with a bat’s body, including rulers, calipers, weighing containers, etc. Clean these items after each bat. If using reusable containers to weigh bats, disinfect after each bat. Alternatively, bats can be put in a plastic bag, weighed, and measured (forearm). Discard and collect bags after each bat.

If collecting wing biopsies for any approved research studies on endangered bats, use a new (unused) punch for each bat. For other bats, punches may be reused, but be sure to completely sterilize them by dipping in full strength approved disinfectant, rinse and flame dry (and allowing them to cool) between bats. Be sure to disinfect the cutting board between bats, as described above.

Nets

When possible, use new nets. Or if not possible, disinfect nets by soaking in an approved disinfectant solution for 10 minutes, rinse and hang them until completely dry (preferably in the sun).

Harp Traps

For each new site, clean any dirt/debris from wires/lines and bags, and soak in an approved disinfectant solution for 10 minutes rinse and dry completely (preferably in the sun) prior to use.

Bats should not be allowed to remain in the bag for more than 10 minutes, but traps should be checked more frequently if possible to reduce the time bats are in contact with each other and the bag. With more frequent checks, it may be possible to line the bottom of the catch bag with a sheet of plastic so that the plastic can be removed every hour and swapped with clean plastic or wiped down with bleach and rinsed clean before reinserting it, to minimize cross contamination of bats.

Notification of Signs of WNS

As a reminder, the white fungus is only one of the signs of WNS, and we do not expect to find bats with fungus on them during the summer (once they are active and grooming). However, other abnormal characteristics may be indicative of WNS. Abnormal characteristics observed in summer may include: extremely underweight bats; flaky, dehydrated or wrinkled wing/tail membranes; wing lesions; discolored spots and/ or scarring of flight and tail membranes; multiple small to medium sized holes in wing membranes; torn or necrotic areas at the trailing edge of wing and tail membranes. If you should capture a bat that exhibits signs of WNS or abnormal characteristics, inform the PA Game Commission personnel via the email addresses listed below, and:

Photograph all suspicious bats

Record a wing score for each bat using the Wing Damage Index, found on the Northeastern USFWS page:

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose2.html#research

Report suspicious bats (and send photos) within 24 hr to: cbutchkosk@state.pa.us; grturner@state.pa.us; liswilliam@state.pa.us.

Additional reporting can be done via the PA Game Commission’s Website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/) by clicking on “Report a sick bat.”
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 13, 2009 12:21 pm

2. Stone has confirmed two disinfectants that kill the fungus effectively and can be used to clean gear such as boots, ropes, coveralls, gloves, vertical gear, etc.

So, is Stone accepting liability if some vertical gear fails because of exposure to these chemicals? How did he confirm that promicidal is safe to use on the thread that holds harnesses together?
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby NZcaver » Mar 13, 2009 1:23 pm

Ah, this must be the same NY state wildlife pathologist Ward Stone who is (or at least was) convinced WNS is linked to climate change.

Like Scott, I'd be very interested in knowing the parameters and results of any testing of fungicides on caving gear - especially nylon harnesses and ropes. I'm also curious why the aforementioned substances are the "ONLY products that have been laboratory-tested and verified as effective against the WNS-associated fungus." But I suppose it takes time and money for various substances to be conclusively tested and peer-reviewed before they make the list.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Dwight Livingston » Mar 16, 2009 8:21 am

I am concerned that a recommendation to use "Lysol" to disinfect cave gear is not specific enough and may mislead cavers into using treatments that are not proven to be effective or safe for gear. Lysol is a brand name applied to many products, most all with different, or even completely different, ingredients. A quick look at just a few of the MSDS sheets for the very many Lysol cleaners shows that they may have nothing to do with each other, even products with names that sound the same.

The report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends "Professional Lysol Antibacterial Cleaner." The closest match I can see on the Reckitt Benchiser site is . . .

Professional Lysol Brand Antibacterial All Purpose Cleaner
2.4% Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride
.8% Didecyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride

Whereas you might use . . .

Lysol Brand Disinfectant, All Purpose Cleaner
2-3% Alcohol Ethoxylate 7EO
80% Benzalkonium Chloride

. . . or . . .

Lysol Brand I.C. Antibacterial Soap, Ready-to-use (Liquid)
.3% Triclosan

. . . or . . .

Professional Lysol Brand Disinfectant Pine Action Cleaner Concentrate
9% Pine Oil
12% Isopropyl Alcohol
6 % Alcohol Ethoxylate
.83% Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride

. . . or . . .

Lysol Brand Antibacterial Hand Gel
63% Ethanol

Okay, this is getting tedious, and I probably blew the spelling on a few things. Anyway, I hope everyone will use the the exact product, and not just anything that has the name "Lysol" on it.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby NZcaver » Mar 16, 2009 2:53 pm

Dwight Livingston wrote:I am concerned that a recommendation to use "Lysol" to disinfect cave gear is not specific enough and may mislead cavers into using treatments that are not proven to be effective or safe for gear.

You make an excellent point, Dwight. (And Phil made a similar comment earlier.)

The Lysol I've used on my caving gear in the past is actually none of the above - it's the "Lysol Brand A.C. Disinfectant Wipes." They're great (easy) to use on helmets, packs, boots, vertical hardware, etc. They contain yet another combination of ingredients:

TETRASODIUM EDTA 38%
ETHOXYLATED ALCOHOL 91-8
DIETHYLENE GLY.MONOBUT.ET
ALKYL DIMETHYL BENZYL AMMONUIM CHLORIDE

Source MSDS
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 30, 2009 9:23 am

Here's is a pull test of "bleach soaked webbing." I don't know the person who posted this video or any details behind it. Anyone know what could be expected from a similar set up without the bleach soaking?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efjKPuhVIec
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Carl Amundson » Mar 30, 2009 3:24 pm

I have a blog running on OnlineCavers.com about the caving moratorium.
Alan Horn posted an email exchange between himself and Peter Youngbaer.
I thought it has some good insights and Alan has allowed me to post it here.

Peter,
Earlier this week I was caving with a young lady who works in the medical field. During a discussion about WNS decontamination protocol she made a point that the fungus itself may be killed by bleach true however the spores are much more difficult to kill. Needing heat above 300 degrees to in fact kill those spores is this true?

Alan Horn

-------------------------

Hi, Alan,

Great question. The answer is we don't know.

Yes, the bleach solution (and some other solutions - see the USFWS
page) have proven to kill the fungus. However, the survival of spores
of this species is not understood.

Dr. David Blehert, discoverer of the new species, is a mycologist at
the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. What he has been able to
determine at this time is that the fungus thrives at 41-50 degrees
Farenheit. It is essentially inactive at around 70 degrees, and
cannot live at human body temperatures. This is probably why there
have been no apparent affects of WNS on humans despite thousands of
exposures.

We have specifically asked Dr. Blehert about temperatures and
decontamination. He is also being asked about the potential of fungal
and spore survivability and possible transfer bat to bat outside the
hibernaculum, such as in maternity roosts. He is the key analyst of
the cave soil/sediment sampling that has been done over the winter to
see if the fungus is ubiquitous in the background environment, and
he's running eight fungal infection trials this winter in his lab.
Plus he's the person who analyzes all the field samples sent from any
suspected new sites around the country, which take priority as
wildlife managers struggle to contain the spread of WNS. In other
words, he's extremely busy.

Specifically, we have asked if hot water (110-120 degrees, such as
used for home or commercial washing machines) effectively kills the
fungus and its spores. What about boiling water? Or, does it need to
be hotter, such as the 300 degrees you mention.

The answer is unknown.

You should know that we are working with the USFWS to update the
protocols. Dr. Blehert has sent some of the fungus to Dr. Hazel
Barton, who has stepped forward to run laboratory trials. I am
currently working with her on the final version of her research
proposal for funding from the NSS. Caver Eliah Kagan has been
facilitating the collection of new rope and other samples from the
manufacturers. One of our highest concerns is to make sure that any
decontamination protocol not only effectively deals with the fungus,
but also maintains the safetey and integrity of the rope or other
load-bearing textiles.

Personally, I don't know what happens to any of our cave ropes at 300
degrees, but I don't think it's a good thing. High heat might work
for clothes, boots, packs, hardware, but I'm loathe to recommend it
for ropes, etc. But again, I speculate and would prefer to have
actual lab results let us know what is both effective and safe.

Thanks for your comments and question.

Peter

--------------------------

Peter
A steam cleaner like a steam "jenny" using pressurized steam essentially
boiling water would probably work. I do not know if that level of heat would
adversely effect rope. If I must dump my rope after every vert trip I guess
it is the end of my vert days Dooms day scenario for cavers would be if it
were to mutate hybrid with the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum Histoplasmosis
White lung syndrome...
That photo on the back of the March NSS news brought a tear to my eye any
one genuinely caring about bats had to have been touched. Thanks for your
reply.

Alan

--------------------------

Heat will shrink rope, including at different rates for the sheath and
the core for kernmantle. How much is tolerable is probably somewhat a
personal issue.

Clearly, dumping rope at 75 cents a foot after every trip is not
affordable, so even more impetus to find a practical yet effective
solution.

Yeah, that picture at that scale was pretty commanding.

Thanks for the suggestion about the steam jenny. I will pass it along.

Peter
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby NZcaver » Mar 30, 2009 3:32 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Here's is a pull test of "bleach soaked webbing." I don't know the person who posted this video or any details behind it. Anyone know what could be expected from a similar set up without the bleach soaking?

Nice find, Scott.

Good question. Without doing a control test with new webbing, and showing/describing the test parameters in detail, the results are unfortunately only speculative at best. However I noticed he also has a similar video of webbing soaked in sulfuric acid, and it breaks at a much lower load than this example did.

But if we were to speculate... 25mm Climb-spec webbing has a stated MBS of 19kN, or 4200lbf. His test setup seems to be a loop tied with a water knot. So very roughly that could mean 4200 x 2 - 35% for the knot. I'd expect the theoretical MBS to be approximately 5500lbf, +/- at least 20% because results are never totally consistent when testing knots.

The bleach-soaked setup in the video broke at about 4900lbf (assuming the machine is displaying force in pounds). So unless my mental arithmetic is faulty, I'd consider the results to be in the same ballpark as we might expect a 'normal' sample of webbing to break. A far cry from the mere 600lbf that this guy's sulphuric acid webbing test broke at!
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Scott McCrea » Mar 30, 2009 3:39 pm

That's pretty much what I thought too--the bleach, in this test, had little to no affect on the webbing.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby cavedoc » Mar 30, 2009 4:22 pm

NZcaver wrote:The bleach-soaked setup in the video broke at about 4900lbf (assuming the machine is displaying force in pounds). So unless my mental arithmetic is faulty, I'd consider the results to be in the same ballpark as we might expect a 'normal' sample of webbing to break.


Run it back a few times and you see that the number goes back down before its catastrophic break. I agree it's close to expected performance. I'd like to see a repeat on a piece that had sat around in his garage for a month after its bleach exposure. But it's a great start.
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