It’s the double-edged sword of antibiotics. We can’t live with them – and we can’t live without them.
Because just about every surgical procedure there is relies on antibiotics to prevent infection.
And alarm bells are ringing. The number of pathogens resistant to antibiotics is growing.
20 years for a cure
Faced with a new Dark Age, medics are pushing for research into more effective drugs. But proper development and testing can take 20 years.
Humanity can’t wait that long.
We need something now – a higher level of hygiene in everything we do.
But nobody says it’s easy. Even sterile measures can introduce infection to surgical procedures. Particularly post-op – less easy without the rigorous scrub-ups, sterilised instruments and dressings, or the HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered airflow.
Which brings us to the Big Q.
A UV tunnel at all entrances to kill surface germs. Continuous deep clean and scrub down with effective germ-killers like formaldehyde and bleach.
Better still, with airborne hydrogen peroxide which destroys every virus and bacteria it touches.
The downside is, it’s mostly the patient who is the source of infection – an existing condition, or brought in on their person when admitted.
So are visitors. You yourself are a source of infection too. Strip naked and power-shower, you’re still a threat to anyone with open wounds.
So are hospital staff. Germs surround us wherever we go, it’s a fact of life.
Sterile is not enough
We can sterilise the hospital environment – the air, the beds, the equipment, the wards – but we can’t sterilise the people.
Which could mean out with the hazmat suits – for visitors and hospital staff.
Or visiting granny could get more like visiting prison.
On the phone, behind plate glass. Patients in no-go areas. No physical contact.
To keep you safe. To keep them safe.
Except being sick is not a crime. Nor is catching some nasty bug.
Of course it won’t happen. We’re not that inhuman.
Don’t take chances
Unless we get an epidemic. Like in 1918, when flu took out a third of the planet and killed 50 million people – almost the population of Britain.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Forget to wash your hands five years from now – and maybe you won’t come back.
Seems any sterilising effort needs stinky chemicals that give you a headache and strips away paint if you’re not careful.
Bleach, formaldehyde, peracetic acid – don’t think for a second that any of that stuff is good for you.
Not nice, however you do it
Either that or it’s heat so hot, you can’t stand it.
Or messing around with ultra violet light and exposing yourself to whatever.
Or worst of the lot, you’re playing around with some noxious gas that does your head in with the slightest whiff.
On top of which, you’ve usually got to scrub like crazy before you get anywhere. Then wash the whole lot off afterwards.
Strictly for the birds.
Like ordinary washing, but nastier.
Still basically manual wipe.
Which means how hard you scrub, and for how long, also comes into it.
Plus, how can you be sure you haven’t missed a bit?
And how about all the surfaces you can’t normally reach? Like underneath things? Or behind? Or on top? And all those wires and tubes for the equipment you use? Computer cables, screens, keyboards, phones?
Get liquid in any of them and BGRZAPF! Things stop working.
And what about the air? All that room space around you?
Less than perfect, the job’s not done
So whatever you try, 80% of the germs around you don’t even get touched.
And those bugs are sneaky – just about nothing stops them.
Like the Streptococcus mitis bacterium we came across in yesterday’s blog. Coming back to life after two and a half years on the moon – surviving launch, space vacuum, radiation exposure, deep-freeze at 20 degrees above absolute zero, with no nutrient, water or energy source.
Miss one of those things with your squidging sponge and you’re right back where you started.
OK, so technology can help a bit.
Like, bung everything in an autoclave – if you can find one that’s big enough. Fine for instruments, but a bit difficult with a whole room full of stuff.
Then there’s an American company which has this robot thingy that zaps out ultra violet light. Kills all germs dead in minutes, job done.
Well yes, but we have a similar machine and it only works for line of sight. Any obstruction that the light rays can’t get to the back of remains untreated. And the dose gets weaker, the further you are from the machine.
A good idea, but you’ve got to work at it. Move it around a lot so the light rays get everywhere. Like we said, those bugs are sneaky.
All right, how about gas? It gets into the air, spreads around behind things, surely that’s the answer.
Things don’t get much more potent than ozone, a kind of super-oxygen that kills all viruses and bacteria stone-cold dead – the same stuff that high up in the atmosphere protects the Earth from the sun’s deadly radiation.
Uh, huh. But to be effective, its concentration level can be very hazardous. Mild doses are fine for taking out smells and getting rid of mould. But even then, the place has to be evacuated and you’ve got to vent it out thoroughly before it’s safe to use the room.
Sticking with airborne ideas, fogging up the place is another method that is often tried – usually with hydrogen peroxide, a powerful oxidiser, just like ozone – but a lot more people-friendly.
Water-based, the problem is getting the stuff to disperse efficiently. The vapour is heavier than air and takes time to reach everywhere. It’s also wet and needs to be dried off after treatment. Drip, drip into electrical connections, also a hassle. And again, the concentration level necessary makes it hazardous to work with.
How, how, how, to get rid of all the difficulties?
Check out the Hypersteriliser machine. Round the world, hospitals, clinics and care centres are beginning to hike sterilising hygiene to a whole new level with it.
Yes, it uses hydrogen peroxide – but ionised, so it’s finer than air and spreads better – electrically charged so it actively reaches out and grabs viruses and bacteria on the fly.
It’s also boosted with colloidal silver. And remember? Way back before antibiotics, it was silver compounds that were the first choice in dealing with infections.
In fact silver sulfadiazine cream was the standard antibacterial treatment for serious burns until well into the 1990s.
Better still, silver’s antibacterial properties get dramatically enhanced by an electrical field – exactly what happens to it in the nozzle of the Hypersteriliser.
So it’s not just hydrogen peroxide misting out – it’s a Twenty-First Century germ-killer that takes sterilising a whole quantum leap into vastly more effective protection. (Tweet this)
There’s no schlep either. Just press a button and it works itself.
A bit better than a sponge and bleach – but stick around. We’ll always need spot sterilising as a failsafe.
Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.
The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed.It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.
Because this is one of those “not any more” stories.
Not any more the nasties, not any more the miseries.
Because not so long ago, getting rid of germs was more like getting rid of you.
No more schlep
It took hard scrubbing to get the place clean. With stuff so strong it took the top of your head off. Your eyes ran. You coughed and sneezed. Plus your back ached, your fingers were rubbed raw, exactly as if the germs had got you.
Yeah, well that’s what slaving away with bleach will do. And the place always smells terrible afterwards. Headaches, itchy skin – we’ve all been there.
OK, so the wise guys decided to fog the place up. You still had to scrub, but the germ-killer was spread through the air, hopefully reaching everywhere – especially all those hidey-holes no-one could reach.
Trouble was, that stuff was potent too. Toxic de luxe.
Doing your head in
Have you ever smelt aerosolised formaldehyde? Or those quaternary ammonium compounds? Which is why the CDC recommend not to use them.
Not just yuck. You’d die too, if you were a germ.
Except they don’t, do they? Germs, that is. Not in serious enough numbers at least. The place just stinks and there’s still the risk of infection. But that was back then.
Next thing they tried was ethylene oxide – EtO to the initiated. It killed germs better but was way too potent. A bit too toxic too. Still made you think your head was going to burst.
Hi, hydrogen peroxide
Then somebody had a brainwave and chose hydrogen peroxide – high powered, a known oxidiser, decomposed to just oxygen and water afterwards – what was not to like?
Too watery was the first part. It needed special dryers to get rid of the damp. Which made it dodgy with electrical stuff and computers. Short circuits and things. Risky.
Still too strong was the second part. Sure you can buy hydrogen peroxide at the chemist in a 3% solution. Safe to use at home. But way too weak to spray into the air and clobber nasties like clostridium difficile or MRSA. To do that, you had to rack it way up – 32% and even higher.
Back to the watering eyes and sore throat. And a bit more than that.
Did we mention strong oxidising properties? Because at 32% it’s a bit iffy – strong enough to eat plastic and chew certain metals, a bit too enthusiastic on all kinds of surfaces – especially with repeat treatments.
Ah, but that’s vaporised hydrogen peroxide. Mixed with water and sprayed as thin as possible. That’s why the 32%. Spread out into little tiny droplets it needs all that oomph to be sure of clobbering the germs. And it certainly does that – all viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing.
Except 32% is way too hazardous for general use. It needs specially trained staff, work areas have to be evacuated, and everybody needs to wear protective clothing.
Hello, ionised alternative
The revolution is ionised hydrogen peroxide. A safe process that makes it way more effective. And allows it to be milder – only a 6% solution instead of 32%, same as you can buy in Boots for doing your hair. Remember peroxide blondes?
There’s two ways to ionise the stuff – heat or electricity.
Heat is preferred because it is cheaper. All them hydrogen peroxide atoms get hot under the collar until they develop a charge, usually negative – which makes them reach out and grab at pathogens, usually positively charged, like iron filings to a magnet.
Electricity is the clever alternative – and it also means low temperature operation, no risk of melting anything the stuff come in contact with.
At the sprayer nozzle a great fat electric arc charges the parting atoms, forcing them to spread apart from each other because like charges repel. This means the hydrogen peroxide actively spreads itself out and away, reaching deep into cracks and crevices trying to escape from itself. Positively forced dispersal unlike of the vaporised stuff, which just billows like steam.
This spreadability means the droplets can be smaller, finer and ride the air better – especially with the lighter load of the 6% solution. Drier too. No moisture to mess up keyboards or cabling. And of course, too mild to attack surfaces, even sensitive ones.
No compromise on performance though. Ionising physically changes the state of the hydrogen peroxide from a gaseous vapour to a plasma – a charged gas. The effect is like hitting the turbo button. Even more antimicrobials are suddenly produced – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, super-oxidising ozone and ultraviolet – all of them potent germ-busters. 6% running on steroids.
Souped up performance
A word of caution though. Yes, it’s safe. But this IS hydrogen peroxide and it IS potent, unless you’re wearing protection, stay away. Hoicked up with radicals and stuff, its oxidising strength is way more than the 32% version.
OK, so ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads better, uses a weaker solution, kills germs more effectively, is drier and gentler to surfaces, and still becomes harmless after action, reverting back to just oxygen and water – so little water that it evaporates before it touches anything.
And push button simple with a Hypersteriliser. Just wheel the thing in, connect to power, press the button, and get out of Dodge. Allow forty odd minutes for the average-sized room and the place is totally sterile – Log 6 kill to be precise, 99.9999% of germs utterly gone.
So now you’re safe. From germs, from nasty smells, from carry-over effects.
Definitely the thing for emergencies and beginning-of-project preparations. To make things safe and free from risk of infection. More high-powered than a regular wash down.
Somehow you imagine that scrubbing is longer and harder. That everything is stripped to its bare bones, then reassembled. That super octane chemicals are involved – face mask and breathing apparatus territory, you can just see the stuff fuming off the walls.
Back to earth, spaceman.
Yes, most deep cleans involve more rubbing and scrubbing, but not a hell of a lot else. They may also include more areas – high contact surfaces like door handles, keypads and remote controls – in addition to the usual worktops and floors.
The big expectation of course is that they do more than remove dirt. The whole purpose of the exercise is to kill germs – not just clean, but safe. Two jobs at once, wipe away the visible dirt, clobber the nasty microbes.
Time to actually work
Ask yourself one question. What’s the contact time?
Removing dirt is a physical thing – wipe, wipe, it’s visibly gone. Not the same with germs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, moulds – they all know how to hang on. They’re too small to see anyway, so it’s impossible to know if they’re there.
Count on it, they are. And they’re only going to get clobbered if the active whatever in the miracle gop being used has sufficient time to do its job. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am is not going to crack it.
So if the job looks like it’s just wipe, wipe, finish, you can bet that germs have hardly been touched. Just because you can smell bleach doesn’t mean it’s doing anything. It needs a contact time of at least ten minutes before anything happens – and that depends on how concentrated it is too.
Yes, bleach makes your eyes water and rips the top of your head off, but as a germ-killer it’s a medium-weight also-ran. And ten minutes with even half a bottle of the stuff dumped in a bucket of water is still nowhere near enough.
Worse in fact, because the bleach kills some of the germs but not all of them. And bacteria particularly are masters at survival. The stronger ones that don’t die off keep multiplying as bacteria always do.
Twenty minutes and there’s a whole new bleach-resistant variety on the go – accelerating madly if where they are is warm and damp – like a countertop in a centrally-heated kitchen, briskly wiped down with a moist rag.
Not good enough.
Which means shifting to a more high-powered kind of germ-killer – glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, ortho-phthalaldehyde, peracetic acid or hydrogen peroxide – most of which drop the necessary contact time down to 30 seconds – again depending on strength and method of application.
Problem right there. Formaldehyde is regulated as a carcinogen and banned across the European Union. Glutaraldehyde is highly toxic and unstable in storage. Ortho-phthalaldehyde (OPA) stains the skin. And peracetic acid corrodes brass, copper, steel and iron.
Which leaves hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff that our own bodies produce naturally to fight infection. It attacks viruses and bacteria by oxidising them, reverting back to small quantities of harmless oxygen and water.
Now we’re cooking with gas.
Antimicrobial air force
Quite literally if the stuff is sprayed into the air after physical scrubbing of worktops, floors and other surfaces has already removed physical dirt. Because the expectation of a deep clean is not just that it disinfects all surfaces, it ought to STERILISE THE ROOM.
And doing the surfaces is only part of the job – pretty well 80% of any room is the air space we move around in. Never touched by ordinary cleaning methods, but alive with all kinds of unseen material – dust, fluff, the air we breathe – and billions and billions of viruses and bacteria.
Which makes treating the air the main part of the job – exactly what airborne hydrogen peroxide does.
It gets even better. If the hydrogen peroxide is ionised – charged with high voltage electricity as it’s dispersed – it changes state from a gas vapour to a plasma, forcing its individual particles away from each other and actively grabbing at airborne viruses and bacteria as it does so.
Becoming a plasma unlocks other high-powered antimicrobials too – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.
Viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. Allowing forty minutes for effective dispersal and proper contact time across the entire space, ALL of them are dead down to less than one in a million – 99.9999% destroyed. Or as the medics prefer to put it, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.
Sound like a proper deep clean to you?
OK, now you just need a Hypersteriliser to achieve it – a small but nifty wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that makes total room sterility as easy as pie. If your cleaning service isn’t using one, better jump up and down until they do.
Deep clean means NO MORE GERMS, not just scratching the surface.
Like, have you ever wondered where we get our masochistic Nineteenth Century convictions about keeping healthy?
Actually, it’s more about the things we use to KEEP us healthy.
Do we really want things to be like this?
Antiseptics have to sting, medicines have to taste awful, and disinfectants have to smell so strong they take the roof of your head off.
True isn’t it, that if your tummy medicine doesn’t taste like the end of the world, you KNOW it’s not going to work?
Except that maybe, just maybe, the doctors are coming round to thinking otherwise.
Because buried deep in a recent issue of Occupational & Environmental Medicine is a report about the use of bleach as a disinfectant and the potentially harmful effects it has on children.
Well, hello reality.
How many of us remember school rooms ponging to high heaven – so strong we got headaches, felt dizzy and please Miss, I don’t feel very well before rushing outside to throw up?
Seems that from way back, our phobia to get rid of germs has driven us to use some pretty toxic preparations – they kill germs, yes – but they do a pretty good number on us too.
Bleach and carbolic – has your body ever suffered anything quite as noxious in the name of good health? Sure, there’s no germs in the place, but the air is not breathable either.
So it comes as no surprise that the learned O&EM report links bleach with respiratory problems among kids – specifically influenza, tonsillitis, sinusitis, otitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
In homes and schools where bleach is regularly used, all of these conditions are all too common – even the risk of re-infection is 18% higher too.
Are we mad or what?
The killer germ-killer
Once upon a time the king germ-killer of choice used to be formaldehyde. Effective certainly, but fatal if ingested, highly irritable to the skin and breathing airways, and linked repeatedly to cancer.
This stuff is so toxic it’s now banned pretty well world-wide for general use – and treated as highly hazardous by industry.
Check the side effects of bleach and they’re pretty much the same, yet still we keep using it as a frontline defence. And have you seen what it does to plastics and lots of other materials?
Plus it’s difficult and unpleasant to use too. Rubber gloves and face mask.
And even then, it’s only effective as a wipe-down disinfectant. It doesn’t kill all germs, only some – and despite the fumes, does nothing to clobber pathogens floating around in the air – which let’s face it, is 80% of the indoor space around us.
Yes, we’re masochistic.
So here is this clumsy, toxic, evil-smelling stuff that doesn’t exactly do all the things it’s supposed to and we keep on using it.
The safe steriliser
When all the time there’s another Nineteenth Century germ-killer that is so completely safe to use, our own bodies manufacture the stuff to defend against infections – which kills ALL viruses and bacteria – and which leaves no trace of itself after use, the whole place is odour-free and sterile.
Yup, it’s our good friend hydrogen peroxide – the same teeth-whitening, disinfecting and colour-bleaching secret of “bottle blondes” that you can buy over the counter at Boots or Superdrug.
But with a difference.
Souped up in a Hypersteriliser, it ionises to work as a plasma, actively spreading everywhere as a super-fine mist – pushed hard against walls, ceilings, floors, furniture and underneath things too, even deep into cracks and crevices – actively snatching at viruses and bacteria to rip them apart by oxidising them.
And when it’s all over, it reverts back to oxygen and water, which immediately evaporates to nothing. No coughs, no colds, not even a mild twinge of headache. Slightly less hazardous than the other things we try – which could be more closely related to paint-stripper.
Yes, germs are dangerous and need drastic action.
But we don’t have to kill our kids for it. (Tweet this)