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How this disinfection solution went from fighting anthrax to decontaminating ambulances

First responders can cut down on time spent eliminating pathogens using a single-step method of cleaning

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Instead of relying on numerous products, first responders can gain confidence in their cleaning with SteraMist by TOMI Environmental Solutions.

TOMI Environmental Solutions

Valuing a clean workspace is a commendable attribute for many professionals, but for first responders, cleanliness isn’t optional – it’s a necessity to ensure adequate care and protection of patients and EMS personnel.

The emphasis placed on proper decontamination of ambulances and equipment used by first responders has certainly heightened in recent years due to the pandemic, yet plenty of other pathogens have remained threats for decades.

Instead of relying on numerous products, each with varying degrees of efficacy and specific methods of use, first responders can gain confidence in their cleaning with SteraMist by TOMI Environmental Solutions.

This single-step method of disinfection has evolved over the last several decades and has now become an easy-to-use option for those on the front lines.


The science behind SteraMist was not conceived with the intention of offering a nontoxic decontamination solution for first responders. Instead, its creation was fueled by an effort to protect the United States from weaponized anthrax spores.

After 9/11 and the anthrax scares that followed, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (better known as DARPA) provided a grant to fund the development of the technology behind SteraMist, says Dr. Halden Shane, CEO of TOMI Environmental Solutions.

Years of DARPA testing resulted in the conception of a product suitable for commercial use as well as widespread infection control. SteraMist quickly became popular with healthcare and technology communities alike.

In 2015, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Defense took notice of SteraMist’s ability to decontaminate surfaces and air. The three agencies awarded TOMI Environmental Solutions a grant to help address the Ebola epidemic in Africa using SteraMist.

Subsequently, SteraMist has been sought after by first responders since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic because it is easy to use and it works to eliminate a wide array of pathogens quickly.


Many cleaning solutions used by first responders are potent and require specific handling, as well as varied wiping and drying times before a surface is considered decontaminated. SteraMist works differently through its patented ionized Hydrogen Peroxide (iHP), which activates and ionizes hydrogen peroxide.

“Every SteraMist product uses one-of-a-kind ionized Hydrogen Peroxide technology to shear its EPA registered solution into a fine mist,” said Shane. “The mist is sent through a cold plasma arc to create ionized hydroxyl radicals that act like a gas and provide excellent moving properties. These submicron to 3 micron-sized hydroxyl radicals are charged and kill on contact.”

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EMS personnel can rest assured that their equipment, ambulances and even their locker rooms are fully decontaminated after using SteraMist.

TOMI Environmental Solutions

Hydroxyl radicals are one of the most powerful natural oxidizing agents, says Shane, and during the iHP process, they kill bacteria, bacteria spores, viruses and fungal spores by destroying their proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.

These hydroxyl radicals don’t damage surfaces and don’t leave any residue, making SteraMist ideal for decontaminating sensitive equipment. The process uses a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide as its sole active ingredient prior to ionization and kills on contact with no wet time. All TOMI Environmental Solutions products, when applied properly, achieve a six-log and greater kill, eliminating 99.9999% of pathogens.


SteraMist users have multiple options when it comes to their preferred delivery method. For larger areas, the SteraMist Environment System works to fog an enclosed space using three applicators that can be turned on and off remotely. The system is transportable, allowing EMS personnel to use a single fogger in a range of environments.

TOMI Environmental Solutions also created a handheld option for more portable decontamination. The SteraMist Surface Unit can clean sensitive equipment that may otherwise be difficult to reach, as well as surfaces that are regularly touched.

The newest solution for single-step decontamination is the SteraPak, a portable system that can be used for every surface, room or item EMS personnel needs to clean.

Featuring a battery-powered, slim and compact design, the SteraPak allows a user to easily navigate from room to room without wasting valuable time, says Shane, and removes the hassle of mixing hazardous solution, wiping and rinsing surfaces.


No matter which delivery system makes the most sense for your agency, EMS personnel can rest assured that their equipment, ambulances and even their locker rooms are fully decontaminated after using SteraMist.

TOMI Environmental Solutions products have been certified by the Organic Review Materials Institute and are nontoxic. The company has also extensively tested its technology to complete registration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“SteraMist’s iHP technology was so innovative that TOMI worked with the EPA to design a new method to test the technology’s effectiveness,” said Shane. “This led to TOMI receiving the first ever hospital-healthcare and broad-spectrum system and equipment combination EPA registration.”

The fact that the combination of solution and equipment is registered together is one of SteraMist’s stronger points, he adds. This combination registration takes the guesswork out of using an applicator and solution made by separate manufacturers.

Cleanliness can’t be compromised in your agency, and when time is always of the essence, first responders can enhance their single-step decontamination efforts with SteraMist.

Visit TOMI Environmental Solutions for more information.

Courtney Levin is a Branded Content Project Lead for Lexipol where she develops content for the public safety audience including law enforcement, fire, EMS and corrections. She holds a BA in Communications from Sonoma State University and has written professionally since 2016.