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MIT Endicott House eliminates chemical sanitizers, detergents

Posted by Natalie Feulner  November 1, 2011 10:00 AM

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The MIT Endicott House in Dedham recently eliminated chemical sanitizers and detergents from its housekeeping and food services.

According to a news release from the conference center, owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the chemical sanitizers and detergents were replaced by a solution derived from electrolyzed water. The solution, called hypochlorous acid, is harmless in food and to humans, but in laboratory tests sponsored by the EPA, was more powerful than chlorine bleach.

Leave it to the folks at MIT to come up with this greener way of cleaning.

To create the solution, tap water is pumped into compartments and given either a positive or negative electrical charge. The compartments create an electrolytic cell which is then submerged in saturated saline. The electrical charge then converts the ion from chloride to hypochlorous acid.

A solution called sodium hydroxide can also be created using the electrolyzed water, and both solutions can be used in the kitchen for hand sanitizing, disinfecting food preparation surfaces, and cleaning equipment.

So far at the conference center, the guest rooms, conference rooms, common areas, and the kitchen are cleaned using the hypochlorous acid.

The facility's general manager, Michael Fitzgerald, said in a statement that the Endicott House embraces green initiatives and innovation.

“We compost [and] recycle everything from cardboard boxes to wooden palates, and plastic bottles,” Fitzgerald said. “And now, we have virtually eliminated toxic chemical cleaners and sanitizers.”

Waste water leaving the property is now almost entirely free of substances that can contaminate sewer treatment systems and the environment, the statement said.

The MIT Endicott House is independent of the other facility in Dedham that shares its name -- the Endicott Estate, which is owned by the town.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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