Too Good To Be True?

By Jeff Beshey

There’s a lot of cleaning and sanitizing going on these days – on wrestling mats, in locker rooms, in classrooms, in our homes, and everywhere else we might come into contact with harmful pathogens. What’s the best way to deal with these bugs? There are chemicals like chlorine bleach that work, but they take a relatively long time to be effective and using harmful chemicals to fight harmful pathogens just doesn’t seem like a great solution.

What if there was a technology that produces a safe, natural cleaning solution that is more powerful than chlorine bleach and works 3,000 times faster!?

When I received an email telling me exactly that, I was a bit skeptical.

I met Tim McNiff years ago when we were both working in the trenches covering Gopher Wrestling at the NCAA Championships. Tim is a former KARE 11 TV reporter, but these days he is a Strategic Communications Consultant, and one of the companies he is working with is a local Minnesota company called Green Science Solutions (GSS). Tim reached out to me about a technology that he believes could really help the wrestling community.

I know a little bit about how marketing works, and it’s not that unusual for me to hear from people wanting The Guillotine to promote ‘this product’ or ‘that event.’ With this in mind, I checked out Green Science Solutions’ website, watched some videos, and read some information Tim sent me.

When I got back to Tim, my response was, “Seems almost too good to be true!”

He told me, “That is EXACTLY what I said for the first few weeks I was working with them!”

As it turns out, this seems to be a common reaction when people first hear about the technology.

The technology is called Stabilized Aqueous Ozone (SAO). Electricity is used to convert oxygen (O2) in the air into ozone (O3) and infuse it into tap water, which can be safely applied to surfaces to clean, deodorize, and sanitize without using chemicals. Aqueous ozone use as a cleaner and sanitizer has been around for decades, but the technology and equipment to bring it to almost anybody at an affordable price is relatively new. An SAO dispenser can be installed where there is tap water and an electrical outlet. Personal SAO devices don’t require any installation and can be used like a regular spray bottle. According to Green Science Solutions’ website, the benefits of using SAO include eliminating germs, odors, stains, mold, and mildew. It quickly kills viruses and bacteria. It is safe and effective with no toxins, carcinogens, or chemical residue. And it converts safely back to tap water and oxygen. Too good to be true, right?

When I learned from Tim that there were coaches in the Minnesota wrestling community that were already using SAO in their program for cleaning and sanitizing, I wanted to find out what convinced them to use it. I reached out to two coaches using it – Brandon Paulson of PINnacle Wrestling School and Will Short of Simley HS – to see what they had to say about SAO and GSS.

“When COVID hit last April, Tim McNiff contacted me about SAO because he thought it would help us get on the mat faster,” said Paulson. “We met with him and others from the company in May at the facility. They brought along a 3M Microorganism test kit. This was all a little above my head, but it basically showed how SAO removed the microorganisms, and with less “dwell” time, and without chemicals. This didn’t really sell me, as it did seem too good to be true. So I did some research on it. What really sold me was seeing Stanford University, STMA High School, Toronto International Airport, and more use this product to clean and sanitize. You will also see SAO used to treat water and to clean fruits and vegetables.”

“SAO does sound too good to be true at times,” said Short. “The ease of use and the efficacy does not seem to add up, but it does. This is the product of the future for wrestling. There is a ton of science and testing that has been done. You can visit the Green Science Solutions website, and it is all there for a skeptical wrestling coach that is set in his ways like I was.”

Cleaning and sanitizing mats and equipment is nothing new for Paulson, Short, and the rest of the wrestling community. Dealing with “skin funk” is just a part of life for the wrestling community, but the COVID-19 virus has added another layer on top of that. The convenience and safety of SAO facilitates cleaning more often.

PINnacle had an SAO dispenser installed in June. “Previously, we used to wash our mats at the end of the day. With COVID now, we wash our mats after every practice,” said Paulson. “This fall, we had five practices a day at the facility from Sunday to Thursday. SAO made sense for us as we didn’t want kids or adults wrestling on mats that just had chemicals sprayed on them. But, we also needed clean mats.”

“We have our SAO dispenser set up in a custodial closet just off the wrestling room,” said Short. “All you need is a cold water line. We used to have to mix our chemicals with water and fill our sprayers. Now we just hit the SAO button, and the solution goes directly into our sprayers for the wrestling room.”

Any time you switch from one product to another, you will likely do some kind of cost-benefit analysis. When the products involve health, safety, and the environment, the stakes are even higher.

“The dispenser does have an initial investment cost, but we’ll also save money in the long run with the cleaners that we had used,” said Paulson. “To have a cleaner which is environmentally friendly, safe for wrestlers, and is proven to kill COVID and other viruses 99.99% of the time, it is invaluable to us.”

If SAO works as advertised, it seems like a no-brainer for the wrestling community to get behind it.