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The real Germ Warfare

FMJ explores how to go about preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as explaining some of the requirements, regulations and products in the industry

When people think of specialist cleaning, they focus on things such as high-up windows or graffiti removal. Somehow preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria becomes common place, just considered normal, run-of-the mill work, despite the fact that in many locations this task is absolutely essential and involves specialist knowledge and equipment.Obviously no organisation wants to have viruses and bacteria spreading like wildfire through its premises. Every FM the length and breadth of the country fights to provide a clean, healthy and safe environment for staff to work in. But still, there are places where it goes beyond just being of incredible importance and becomes, quite literally, a matter of life or death.

Biohazard_symbolThe most stringent possible standards must be maintained in the healthcare industry, explains Mike Boxall, MD at i-Clean. “Specialist cleaning is of high importance in healthcare settings because the elderly and infirm, and patients with depressed immune systems are more susceptible to acquiring infections such as MRSA, C difficile, E. coli and Norovirus to name but a few.

“Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) can be contracted as a direct result of medical intervention or through contact with a healthcare setting, but equally pose serious risks to patients and services. HCAIs can exacerbate a patient’s condition, cause acute pain, stress and depression, elongate a patient’s stay in hospital, and at worst, reduce their chances of successful recovery.”

FMJ found that the prevailing view among most FMs and service providers was that anti-viral and anti-bacterial cleaning was merely part of a standard service. That your average, every day cleaning sprays and cloths killed “99.9 per cent of all bacteria,” and therefore no specialist work was required at all to combat them.

Perhaps awareness is higher in the healthcare industry because of the higher stakes involved. Maybe in office environments, because you cannot see viruses and bacteria, they end up being overlooked. The fact remains that there certainly is lots of specialist technology that can be deployed, and many precautions that could be taken, which are too often overlooked.

The first is fogging technology. “Advances in fogging machine technology have been made in recent years and this is proving effective against micro organisms that cause a range of illnesses including MRSA, C difficile and Norovirus,” Boxall explains. “Fogging machines produce a vapour mist of optimum-sized Hydrogen Peroxide droplets which fill the room penetrating and disinfecting all areas and contents of the environment. This technology significantly reduces the time to deep-clean and is proven to be more effective in reaching hard to reach surfaces and areas.”

Another example, perhaps a somewhat surprising one, is the increased use of silver in cleaning solutions. “The metal can be used in a variety of ways,” Boxall says. “From silver-coated medical instruments to door handles due to silver’s long established anti-bacterial properties.”

Though the introduction of modern antibiotics in the last century has reduced silver’s fame as a cleaning agent, its use was once common place. As far back as Ancient Greece Hippocrates advocated the use of silver in the treating of wounds.

The Romans knew that placing small amounts of silver in water would make it healthier, because it disinfects the liquid and prevents microbial growth. This is where the practice of throwing coins into wishing wells originated, although too much silver did have the unfortunate side effect of turning drinkers’ skin blue.

About Sarah OBeirne


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