Beginning the bacteria battle

9 Apr 2012

This highly successful BSI/SCI and Materials KTN sponsored workshop - Antimicrobial Hard Surfaces: The Need for Suitable Standards - was run at BSI on 28 February 2012 at BSI, London, and attracted 68 delegates. The background to this event is that many initiatives have been instigated to reduce the spread of infectious pathogens, such as MRSA, SARS and E. coli, particularly in the reduction of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) and environments such as schools, food processing, and mass transit.

Most campaigns so far have focussed on hygiene and disinfection. However, there is a promising new type of technology for the future: hard surfaces with long-term intrinsic antimicrobial characteristics. These can be employed as solid components that kill microorganisms passively. These can provide continuous antimicrobial action and, as this can be designed into a product, the potential for product development is obvious.

There is, however, a need for quantitative assessment of this technology to be coordinated internationally so that realistic comparisons of claims can be made. Current efficacy test standards are not always representative of in-use conditions for end products and therefore claims based on such testing can be misleading, making comparisons between different technologies or materials difficult.

The workshop attempted to provide an overview of existing standards and concluded they were not relevant to real life situations and consequently that they were not fit for purpose. By encouraging the development of new British Standard(s) or Publicly Available Specifications(s), hopefully to be followed by British Standard(s), could hopefully provide material suppliers with a sound basis upon which to make marketing claims.

This will also allow researchers, manufacturers and users to draw comparisons between materials claimed to be antimicrobial and choose those appropriate to their environment.

Presentations were by academia microbiological experts Dr Jean-Yves Maillard and Prof Bill Keevil and Dr David Jenkins and Campden BRI from the NHS. Dr John Holah, Ben Sheridan and Rob Greaves of BSI outlined the main routes to standardisation. This was followed by an open discussion session entitled 'The way forward?' and was chaired by Dr Bernie Rickinson CEO of IMMM. This final session resulted in much animated discussion.

The slides and final output from this event are on the Materials KTN website below, and for more on potential involvement with any future BSI standard related to this event, please contact:

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