They ain’t afraid of no gum.
With neon green t-shirts asking “Who you gonna call,” a team of gumbusters has been making rounds at GW to keep campus sidewalks free from gum.
The University contracted GumBustersDC in September to remove dried gum spots from sidewalks outside Lisner Auditorium, Gelman Library, Kogan Plaza, 1957 E Street and the Foggy Bottom Metro station.
Dan Nestor, the U.S. Sales Manager of GumBusters, said the company’s technology was only recently introduced to the United States. It has been used in Europe for over 15 years to remove posters and graffiti and for sanitation in food processing.
The machines are environmentally friendly because they use non-toxic detergents and less water than the traditional system of power washing, Nestor said.
He added that the machines are easy to use and don’t require much training.
“Because the machines are small and do not require a lot of force, safety is not really a big issue,” Nestor said. “Sometimes the workers might rope off the area, but usually people just walk around.”
Gumbusters came to the United States from Europe in 1999, according to the company’s Web site. The GumCarts, imported from Italy, apply a biodegradable detergent composed of 96 percent dry steam at 300 degrees to the gum spots on the sidewalk. The machine’s operator then applies pressure and rubs the spot with a brush to permanently dissolve the gum.
Duane Cummins, owner of GumBustersDC, said the sidewalk outside the Foggy Bottom Metro station was especially dirty.
“It was a big job because it’s a really busy area that a lot of people walk through every day,” Cummins said.
Cummins admitted that he cannot remember being aware of the problem of gum spots before becoming involved with GumBusters, but he now has a new take on sidewalk cleanliness.
“It’s a huge problem in every large city in this country,” Cummins said. “I’m just right now focusing on D.C. alone.”
GumBustersDC is contracted primarily by private companies and most of the work is for sidewalks at office buildings in downtown D.C. and Baltimore, Cummins said.
Other universities in the area using GumBustersDC include Georgetown, American, Howard and Johns Hopkins, according to the company Web site. Museums, hotel chains, retail businesses, sports venues and night clubs also comprise the company’s clientele.
It is not uncommon to clean areas more than once, Cummins said, due to gum being repeatedly tossed onto the sidewalks.
“After about a year, we will have to go back and redo the area because people just keep dropping their gum,” Cummins said. “They don’t even realize they’re doing it.”
Cummins said his company is working at Montgomery College in Rockville this week, where the problem is more severe than at GW.
“Talk about a lot of gum; it is everywhere.”
This article appeared in the October 5, 2006 issue of the Hatchet.