The father-and-son team behind Holly Oak Chemical, Jim and James Cashion, try their best not to use too many scientific terms when they explain what they do.
But sometimes it slips out anyway.
“We’re talking about covalent bonds here,” said Jim Cashion, the father in the duo.
“Which is basically like super glue,” his son James Cashion is quick to clarify. “You know, if you want to think of it in simpler terms.”
To put it even more simply, the Cashions are in the business of disinfectant — not the kind most are familiar with, like soap or hand sanitizer. Instead, they manufacture two products under the brand name mPact, which are made up of chemicals that almost everyone has come in contact with, but few people are aware of.
The active ingredients in mPact products — 3 (trihydroxysilyl) propyldimethyl octadecyl ammonium chloride — are not new to the market. Typically they’ve been used to spray on items like shoes or clothing that are shipped overseas, protecting them from bacteria and fungi that could cause them to fall apart. If you’ve unpacked a fresh pair of Nike sneakers, you’ve come in contact with those chemicals.
Environmentally friendly and EPA-registered, the disinfectant products are now being highlighted as a key weapon in the fight against the coronavirus. Unlike hand sanitizer, for instance, which evaporates within minutes, these chemicals have a unique ability to bond to surfaces, including human skin. Through covalent bonding, the disinfectant remains on the surface for up to 10 days, acting as a shield against viruses, bacteria and fungal infestations.
“The only way to get it off immediately is to sand it off or paint over it,” Jim Cashion said.
With widespread fear of infection unlikely to wane in the immediate future, the Cashions are advocating these chemicals as crucial for businesses where crowds are inherent, such as restaurants or move theaters, as well as for mass transit in general.