Tag Archives: plasma

How we’ll survive now antibiotics don’t work

Doctor washing
No more pills – from now on, everything gets done the hard way

Scary stuff this.

No safety net. Like driving on bald tyres.

Any accident, any surgery, any infection, any fever – we’re on our own. Either our immune systems will handle it, or they won’t. Game over.

End of the line

Because now there’s no more failsafe. No last second backup. Real Friday 13th.

No more silly buggers, the Doc can’t save you if your misadventure goes pear-shaped. The cupboard is empty.

Don’t believe it?

Already we’ve got MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – the scourge of every hospital and big bogey of AMR – antimicrobial resistance. This superbug lives naturally in your nose, for goodness sake.

Wipe your face, then touch a cut – and you’re up a gum tree.

Because methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin – take any of them and the bug might get even stronger.

And MRSA is just one of our regular 9-to-5 infections. Other AMR stars appearing daily include salmonella, streptococcus, c.difficile, TB, gonorrhoea and e.coli. All of them can kill if we’re not careful – and that doesn’t include the heavy brigade like botulism or cholera.

Over-use and abuse

How did these bacteria get so smart?

Well, we’ve been chucking antibiotics at them on an industrial scale for more than 50 years – plenty of time to learn.

Sure thing, a lot of that is in medicine – we’re a growing cult of pill-poppers. These days the average teenager might be on a course of antibiotics say, five times a year.

Hypochondriac grown-ups are worse – or should that be “cyberchondriacs?” The Internet breeds self-diagnosing adults who demand antibiotics so strongly, there’s doctors and chemists who fear for life and limb.

But agriculture is the real villain. 65,000 tons a year and more to bulk up animals for market – beef, pork, mutton, poultry – right across the board. It’s in plants too –from “natural” recycled animal waste. Over-use big time.

Which also means like it or not – carnivore or vegetarian – we’re all on antibiotics already, absorbed through the food chain. And have been ALL OUR LIVES.

Always read the label, remember? Do not take continuously for more than ten days without consulting a physician.

What the heck, we’ve OD’d all our lives!

Living mutations

No wonder our metabolisms are so different from our grandparents’ – weaker, less resilient, more prone to allergies and minor ailments, ballooning to obesity. Our internal bacteria have mutated so much, we’re hardly the same kind of human beings.

Because if it takes only twenty minutes for a bacterium to adapt and evolve to a new generation, that’s around 438,000 mutations learning how to survive antibiotics since they were first used – they should have got it right by now.

So yeah, antibiotics don’t work any more. And since we’re surrounded by billions and billions of bacteria every second – even colonised inside by over 100 trillion – washing our hands is a start.

Wash ’em off so we don’t infect cuts or swallow anything nasty. Wash, wash, wash.

The sloppy hygiene factor

But there’s a problem, and it’s us.

We touch everything everywhere without thinking of these bacteria. From one second to the next, we never think we’re contaminated. Our hands LOOK clean, so we don’t bother.

Sure, we used to get away with it – the Doc back-stopping us with a load of wonder-drugs. But not any more.

So we’re already in big trouble. From our own sloppy hygiene.

It’s not just hands either. Bacteria are everywhere. On everything, under and behind everything, even inside us. And of course, floating through the air – lighter than smoke or specks of dust – swirling, trailing, riding the smallest breeze, all the way up to 30,000 – higher than Everest.

So as soon as our clean hands touch something, they’re contaminated again.

Repeat and repeat

Which means we’ve got to clean the things we touch. And KEEP CLEANING THEM – because the bacteria keep coming back. Wash, wipe, scrub, it’s a never-ending mission.

Even then, it’s not even half the job. Around 80% of any room we live in is air space to move around in – and there’s no wash, wipe, scrubbing answer for that.

We’re at hazard from each other’s bacteria too – because we’re not all the same. Most of us have weaknesses of some kind or other. So our personal biome – the trailing cloud of bacteria unique to each of us – is trapped and mingles in the air of our work space with everybody else’s.

Just by being together we can infect each other.

Unless of course, the whole place is misted up with a Hypersteriliser, oxidising all germs to nothing with hydrogen peroxide.

Not vaporised hydrogen peroxide either – too strong for safety and making everything wet.

Press the button when everybody’s gone for the night, and the mild 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide is IONISED from a microscopic spray into an electrically-charged gas plasma – a super-performing change of state that  releases even more antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone, and ultraviolet – every particle alive with energy to disperse everywhere and grab pathogens as they fly.

Forty minutes and the place is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria. Zero germs. Every surface safe. The air totally bio-neutral.

Safe till next time

Of course it starts all over again next morning.

As we all breeze in for the day, each trailing our bio-cloud with us – hands alive with bacteria from the steering wheel, the door handle, the ticket machine, the lift button and the loo seat. Er yes, but soap and water fixes most of that.

Wash, wash, wash – it’s our latest antibiotic – which in case you were wondering means “inhibits the growth of, or destroys, microorganisms.”

Phew! We made it.

Never mind that those antibio-whatsits don’t work any more. We know how to be safe.

Enjoy your day.

Originally posted 2015-11-13 13:29:00.

If you could see germs, you’d be scared too

Doctor with microscope
More deadly than any terrorist threat – and they’re all around us

Doctors are scared.

They don’t show it because they’re too professional.

But they know and they’re scared. That deep-down gut-twisting fear that things are wrong.

It’s about antibiotics.

Antibiotics and germs.

Once upon a time antibiotics were thought to fix just about anything. Not viruses of course, they’re physically even more difficult. But certainly bacteria. Any risk of infection, bung in antibiotics – the miracle drugs that have made modern medicine the wonder that it is.

Alarm bells ringing

Trouble is, antibiotics are beginning not to work any more. The germs are winning.

Which means any kind of routine surgery – from gallstone removal to a simple bypass – is no longer as safe as it was. Infection is less easy to control. Complications are more likely to set in. Pretty well the only thing between success and disaster is the level of hygiene.

Exactly why doctors are hearing alarm bells.

Because there’s one massive difference between a surgical incision protected by antibiotics – and one not protected at all.

At all? Surely not.

Better believe it. Look at the lengths medics go to in isolating dread diseases. Hazmat clothing for all personnel. Isolation tent with built-in sleeves and gloves for patient care without touching. Like Ebola tents – we’ve all seen the pictures in the media. Just imagine if EVERY case was like this.

Because if antibiotics don’t work, they already are.

Staph infections, TB, c.difficile, gonorrhoea, e.coli – they’re all immune and have-a-go – often present but inactive in our own bodies. Waiting for just one opening, one simple little cut…

External germs are an even bigger headache. They’re everywhere, on every surface, swirling and teeming in the air.

See for yourself

Want a demonstration? Grab a handful of glitter and throw it in the air. Better still, throw it in front of a fan, because all microbes can float on the slightest breeze.

The stuff goes everywhere, right? On your clothes, in your hair, all over your face. And see how difficult it is to wash off. See how it keeps twisting and fluttering in the air – be a couple of hours before that’s finished settling.

But at least you can SEE glitter. Germs are smaller and you can’t see them at all. But they’re there alright – like there’s already 6 billion right inside your own mouth.

OK, maybe glitter is a bit radical – but at least it shows how difficult the problem is.

A better example is Glo Germ, a harmless liquid or powder of fake germs – invisible and no more than 5 microns across, exactly like real. Like germs, it spreads all over the place and can’t be seen.

Not in the air unfortunately, but certainly on surfaces like food preparation areas – a tell-tale to show when areas HAVE NOT been cleaned effectively.

Shine an ultraviolet light on the treated area and uncleaned parts immediately show up – like TV’s fancy CSI-goo for detecting blood stains.

Hey Fred, this thing’s filthy – watch your six, or you’re gonna get it!

Yeah, OK. So our antibiotics have packed up and there’s billions of germs around that we can’t see. Should we give up and cry?

Start with soap and water

Not unless you want to be dead – which is what germs do, given half a chance – make you dead. The bad ones that is – inside every one of us, there’s more than 100 trillion good bacteria of our own.

Which means the best thing is show bad germs where to get off. With soap and water for example – washing our hands at least before and after every meal – and very definitely going to the loo.

Of course doctors and nurses do this already, scrubbing up before every procedure. They know the odds – and nobody wants to lose a patient on THEIR watch.

They’re still scared.

Washing hands, sterilising instruments, swabbing everything down – none of it gets rid of microorganisms in the air. And gut-feel tells the Docs those germs are up there. ALL germs are airborne, it’s a physical impossibility that they’re not. At 5 microns across or less, that’s 100th the size of coffee fumes!

Only one thing for it. Some kind of spray to take out the airborne jobs. If they can fumigate a whole house for insects, then surely they can do the same thing for superbugs.

Hello, hydrogen peroxide

Very definitely yes. And nowhere near as toxic.

The spray is hydrogen peroxide, exactly the same as the body produces for its own germ-fighting – in a mild 6% solution – the same as you might use as for minor cuts and abrasions, or as a mouth wash.

Underpowered? Not a bit of it. Hydrogen peroxide kills germs by oxidising them – shoving oxygen atoms at them that tear apart their cell structure. There’s no germs coming back from that.

Plus, because it’s ionised as it’s sprayed, the hydrogen peroxide is cranked up to warp speed as it leaves its Hypersteriliser dispenser – a slick, handy unit about the size of a small wheelie-bin.

Remember your states of matter? Solid, liquid, gas, right?

Well ionising a gas, which is what vaporised hydrogen peroxide is, changes its state again. From a gas to a plasma – a kind of supergas in which all the molecules are charged.

And which releases a whole slew of other antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Germs to oblivion

Yeah, World War Three in microcosm. But it still takes time to happen. The hydrogen peroxide has to disperse and fill the room space – a rapid action because the molecules all carry the same charge.

They are actively and desperately trying to get away from each other. Which forces the plasma through the air, equally in all directions – fetching hard up against all surfaces, including walls and ceilings – and pushing deep into every crack and crevice, exactly the places wipe-down disinfecting cannot reach.

Filling the air and making sure the stuff works takes around 40 minutes for the average room. After that, the place is sterile. No germs, no bacteria – just oxygen and water which evaporates before it touches anything.

OK, doctors are still scared. There’s still no replacement to do what antibiotics do.

But at least they’re not terrified.

Originally posted 2015-10-29 18:41:36.

Whoops, Dame Sally – antibiotics don’t work, but clean hands aren’t good enough either

Doctor with antibiotics
OK, what are you going to do when the pills don’t work?

Yeah, yeah, yeah – we hear you.

The hand hygiene brigade are always banging on about it. Wash your hands, wash your hands.

And you, Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer – you quite rightly push it further.

Wash your hands or die

Rediscover hygiene, you say. It’s a hidden truth that antibiotics don’t work any more. Superbugs have mutated to become resistant. All major surgery is under threat. It’s back to the Dark Ages – and in our only defence, if we don’t all remember to wash our hands, we’re going to die.

Dead right, Dame Sally (pun intended) – but nowhere near enough.

Clean hands might make a difference in the first microsecond – then we’re right back where we started.

Because it’s not just our hands we have to worry about. It’s everything around us.

Beyond medical

You see, as a high-powered doctor, Dame Sally is thinking in a medical sense.

Yes, she applies her principles to everyday life – to the way we behave, particularly after going to the loo. But her head is thinking hospitals and patients and operations and sterile surroundings.

Wash your hands. Yeah, well doctors and nurses do that already. It’s an ingrained way of life.

It’s the outsiders who don’t. The hospital visitors – and the great wide world beyond the front door.

And even if they did, it would never be enough. Because nothing out there is sterile.

Clean? Well, maybe.

An invisible truth

We judge clean by appearances – and all too often what we think is clean is actually loaded with germs. Looks are deceptive – which is probably why we never wash our hands enough. If they’re not visibly dirty, we reckon they’re OK.

Which means it’s an invisible truth that they’re not. Germs are so infinitesimally small, we have no idea that they’re there.

So if it’s not a sterilised area in a hospital, the very first object hands touch after washing will put billions of germs back again. Your phone, your car keys, money, the door handle to the coffee shop.

Give it five minutes and both hands will be back to normal – 10 million bacteria on each.

Wash our hands, Dame Sally? It can never be enough unless we wash our surroundings too. And not just wash for appearances – wash, scrub, disinfect, whatever, until the germs are gone.

And no, we don’t really do that at the moment. We just think we do.

Everyday germs

Take ordinary household washing up. And let’s refer here to another hygiene expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley. Millions of us do it, yet it’s a hazard highpoint of our lives – basically dipping our eating utensils into a germ soup, then spreading the germs evenly with a wiping-up cloth.

No, LOOKS clean isn’t clean – and certainly not safe from germs.

Nor is it either good enough to blitz the place with bleach and carbolic – scrubbing everything down to within an inch of its life.

Apart from the smell that could rip your head off, it never reaches right into all the dark corners. And most of the time we never remember to do UNDER surfaces or BEHIND them. Exactly the places that germs naturally gather.

It gets worse on your office desk. Because how often does that get done properly – if ever?

Nine times out of ten, a wipe-down from the night crew is the only lick and promise it ever gets. Promise of germs, that is. Because the same cloth gets used for every desk. Contact time is only seconds – and what kind of antibacterial stuff has it got on there anyway?

Looks clean, but isn’t.

Yet that’s where most of us eat lunch – with fingers that we THINK are clean – dropping crumbs, spilling sauces and getting our greasy paws over everything. Especially on that main germ transfer unit, the computer keyboard – press ENTER to guarantee collywobbles.

Yeah, no wonder we keep running to antibiotics. We take such chances with things we can’t see, a pill is our only rescue.

Kinda basic though, really – it’s way better to avoid germs in the first place.

But if washing hands isn’t enough – and even SAVAGE cleaning doesn’t crack it – what else can we do?

Especially when it’s not just surfaces that our hands touch, it’s the air around us too. Air is 80% of the space in any room, yet we never think of cleaning it. Heat it, yes. Cool it, yes. Filter it, yes. Even dehumidify it.

But apart from the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters used in hospitals and aircraft, we never do anything to take the germs out. And there are more germs up there than anywhere else – at less than half the size of a molecule of oxygen, how could there not be?

More than hand washing

Yes, Dame Sally, we ARE washing our hands, we ARE being careful – but if our surroundings are always germ-covered, what can we do?

Yeah, well – get rid of the germs there too.

Not in the great outdoors of course – rain and wind would whip everything away in seconds – bringing new germs to replace the previous ones in the very same instant.

Ah, but we’re basically cave-dwellers, see. We huddle together in enclosed places – away from the wind and the rain, where the elements can’t get us.

And not the germs either, if we’re clever about it.

OK, this is the opposite end of looking after ourselves.

Hospital in reverse

Hospital is the back end – the last resort to rescue us from misadventure. Now we’re looking at the front end – not a doctor in sight, no antibiotics anywhere – a non-medical way of protecting ourselves from germs.

Easy, really. Room by room – enclosed space by enclosed space – we just get rid of them all.

Alright, fine. So what kills germs? And how do we take out the airborne ones – some kind of spray?

All kinds of things kill germs. Bleach, formaldehyde, ethanol, nitrous oxide – all pretty hazardous and not very safe – especially up in the air.

Way better is hydrogen peroxide – exactly like water, but with two oxygen atoms instead of one – H2O2. It’s even made by the body as a natural germ fighter – produced in the lungs, gut, and thyroid gland – and first responder to cuts and scratches, kicking in even before white blood cells arrive.

Same problem though, vaporised hydrogen peroxide has to be in a pretty strong solution (35%) to work in a spray. Hazardous to eyes, nose and throat – in molecule sizes too large to remain airborne for long. Very wet to use too, taking a long time to dry.

Ionised for effectiveness

The breakthrough is to use a weaker solution (6%) of hydrogen peroxide – allowing it to spread drier, finer and further – and ionising it on release to change its state from a gas to a plasma, an electrically charged super-vapour that disperses itself actively in all directions.

The charged plasma also releases further antimicrobials that reach out and destroy viruses and bacteria on the fly – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Close all the windows and doors, get everybody out of Dodge, put the machine in the room (it’s called a Hypersteriliser), press the button – and leave.

Forty minutes later, the whole place is sterile, safe for everybody to come back – with not a virus or bacterium to be found anywhere. No germs, no threats, no need for antibiotics.

Now, Dame Sally – doesn’t that answer your concern?

Originally posted 2015-10-20 14:07:27.

No germs were killed in the use of this air freshener

Woman surgeon
Mis-diagnosis: fragrances only mask the underlying condition – live germs at work

Mmmm, spring meadow.

Smells nice.

Except, why are you using an air freshener? Is something “off” in your home?

Your nose knows

A pong you can’t get rid of maybe.

Mould, or damp, or a drifting stink from the loo.

All signs of germs at work. Viruses and bacteria in your home.

That’s how you know they’re there – and how you know they’re at work.

They smell.

Blitz them with an air freshener and you’re only hiding them. Masking them, so you forget they’re there. Fooling your nose into thinking you’re safe.

Because that’s what you want to be, isn’t it? Safe from germs?

Which air fresheners won’t achieve for you – with very few exceptions.

Just an illusion

Because unless it specifically says on the label that the stuff kills germs, all it will do is smell up the place with a stronger alternative. Pine, lavender, or all kinds of fruit.

And you don’t want to know what goes into an air freshener to make it do that.

Not if it has to out-pong the fermenting or putrefying stench of bacteria at work.

Truth is, you’re not safe from germs at all – and possibly exposed to even bigger hazards.

A typical cocktail might include formaldehyde, a recognised carcinogen. Petroleum distillates such as butane and propane. Even phenol, a skin and nervous system irritant.

Investigate further and you’ll find ethanol, a nervous system depressant with psychoactive effects. Methylformamide, a known cause of system toxicity or cancer, which messes up reproductive organs. Or butanoic acid, for neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption and further organ breakdown.

Want more?

Hidden hazards

Across the 225 million aerosols, plug-ins, gels, candles and incense sticks that we use every year, anything up to 3,000 synthetic chemical ingredients could be in play – all geared to out-bigging smells, not killing germs.

Which is what you’re left with when the stuff wears off.

The same germs are still there.

But you’re right to think of an air freshener. Something that gets at everything that surrounds us.

Bleach or other disinfectants only get at surfaces and floors.

Reality is that 80% of the space we live in is the untouched air surrounding them. And what about the walls and ceilings? The gaps behind and under furniture? Or the cracks in between where your scourer can’t reach?

Time to look at a Hypersteriliser.

To kill germs and make smells go, it’s the only thing.

And it’s so dead easy, all you do is press a button.

Effective hygiene asset

OK, it’s not like a bottle you pick up at the supermarket. It’s wheelie-bin sized investment in home hygiene. Offices too – schools, shops, restaurants, hotels. As essential to everyday living as a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine.

Shut all the windows and doors – and it generates a fine plasma mist of hydrogen peroxide, electrostatically charged to grab viruses and bacteria out of the air, oxidising them to oblivion.

ALL of them. The bad ones you’ve read about: salmonella, e. coli, H1N1 flu virus, clostridium difficile, norovirus, or MRSA. Even horror-killers, like Ebola.

You know it works, because the smells are gone. No more germs.

And it’s safe, because all that’s left decomposes to oxygen and water.

Too fine to affect electrical connections or computer keyboards – which evaporates to nothing before it touches anything.

Your choice.

Heady lavender and the suspicion that you could all catch flu anyway.

Or neutral nothing, no smells at all – knowing you’re safe and all germs are gone completely.

Originally posted 2015-09-03 13:15:07.

Why wipe-clean won’t wipe out killer germs

Professional cleaners
A world of difference between clean and safe

Powerful stuff, chlorine bleach.

Strong enough to blow the top of your head off.

“Kills all known germs dead,” as the famous Domestos claim said.

And it does.

If you use it properly.

Take that, horrible germ

Except none of us do.

Because there’s one heck of a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. (Tweet this)

Most of us bung some bleach in a bucket of water with some detergent, grab a cloth and wipe away at everything we see that looks dirty.

Everything we SEE.

But you can’t see germs. They’re too small.

Something like salmonella or campylobacter – easily present in uncooked meat, particularly chicken – are only around 5 microns across. Small enough to fall THROUGH an unglazed earthenware plate.

Both are likely to be found on your chopping boards or kitchen counters – spread around all over the place in any drops of water from washing food  beforehand.

Uh, huh. So doesn’t the Domestos or kitchen surface cleaner get rid of them?

Depends on how you use it.

Wipe clean is not enough

If like most of us, you spray and then wipe, getting rid of all the dirty marks – probably not.

Because strong though the germ-killers you are using might be, they need TIME to work.

Usually 2 minutes or more – what the manufacturers call “dwell” time. And if you’ve already diluted your bleach before you start, you should allow even more – a weaker solution needs longer.

Ah, but we don’t do that most of the time do we?

Bleach is pretty potent, we know it attacks all kinds of surfaces if we leave it. So we tend to wipe it on, then dry it off quick with a paper towel.

Not good, Jim.

The stuff needs time to work, plus it ought to be sluiced off. You don’t want traces of bleach getting on to the food that you’re preparing. You could make your whole household very ill.

Also, if you think about it – your wiping cloth gets less potent the more you use it.

Whoops. That can actually make things worse.

Germ spreaders

Not enough time to kill the germs. And actually TRANSFERRING germs to other surfaces.

Pretty bad, hey?

Now imagine the same in a school or restaurant kitchen – professional catering setups serving to hundreds of people. Get salmonella or campylobacter running loose in that lot and you’ve got big problems.

And those are just two of the viruses or bacteria nasties that could be lurking there. There are billions more possible.

Not just on the counter tops or chopping boards either.

In the cracks between the counter and the splashback. Down the front of cupboards and storage lockers. In the gaps between the cookers and the fridges. In and around the edges of things. Under the sink and table surfaces. On the walls, on the floors. The ceiling too.

Oh yeah, and in the air too. Where most of them are. Around 80% of the room space. Where your wiping cloth won’t reach.

Hungry pathogens, hanging around everywhere.

If there’s food around, bacteria will go for it. Not as nice as a warm human body, but stick around, somebody might get careless. There’s plenty to eat in a missed grease spot or gravy spill. So it’s only a matter of time.

Which is how – even in kitchen of the best restaurant in the world – germs can breed and multiply, eventually triggering multiple infections with everyone wondering why.

Safe, secure, sterile

Far better to treat cleaning and disinfecting as separate jobs – and doing both properly.

Cleaning, by eye as usual, is good enough to start.

Followed up by disinfecting every single surface and the air itself. Or even better, sterilising everything.

Impossible, right? It would take an age to wipe all those surfaces, if you could get to them all.

But that’s exactly what a Hypersteriliser does.

Without touching anything – no transfer from one place to another – it mists up an ionised cloud of hydrogen peroxide that spreads everywhere throughout a room and oxidises “all germs dead” in around 40 minutes.

Safer than bleach? You bet, your own body produces hydrogen peroxide to kill infection whenever you get a cut or skin puncture. Oh, and when it’s done killing germs, it reverts back to harmless oxygen and water.

Just get out of the room while it’s working, it can make your eyes and throat a little uncomfortable.

Spreads everywhere?

Forced diffusion

More like a power dispersal.

Because it’s not just hydrogen peroxide mist. Ionising it turns it into a plasma, a kind of super-gas.

In the nozzle of the Hypersteriliser machine, ultra-fine molecules of hydrogen peroxide are charged by high voltage electricity. Each with the same negative charge, they are naturally – and aggressively – repelled from each other. Remember magnets at school?

Spreading as far away as they can get, they fill the room quickly, forcing themselves hard up against everything they touch – and underneath, on top, behind – everywhere they can get. Deep into cracks and crevices too – actively trying to escape from each other.

Bad news for cells of viruses and bacteria, lurking on surfaces or floating in the air. Remember magnets again?

With an opposite positive charge, the hydrogen peroxide molecules are violently attracted to them. They reach out and grab hold, welding themselves together – which causes extra oxygen atoms to be released, ripping into the viruses’ and bacteria’s DNA, destroying their cell structure, making them dead.

Effortless, easy

And all without lifting a finger.

No grunt work, scrubbing and wiping. No overpowering smells. No germs anywhere.

The whole place is sterile.

So now you know wipe-down doesn’t always work, how long are you going to keep doing it the old way?

 

Originally posted 2015-05-05 11:59:44.

How to catch a plane without catching a bug

Cabin attendant
Welcome aboard our germ-free flight, no norovirus please!

Ready for take-off?

Ready for this year’s bout of norovirus, or whatever it is you’re in for?

Happens every year, right?

Bugs on a plane. Every passenger’s holiday nightmare. Cabin crew too.

And it keeps happening. However much the airlines say they decontaminate their planes.

Everybody’s sick of it

Sure, on short-hauls – from here to the Med and back – there’s not much time for more than a lick and a promise. A quick wipe-down maybe, empty the toilets, grab all the rubbish out of the gangway.

Sometimes not even that. Come and gone in under twenty minutes. So on-board germs get a return trip. Twice as many people to infect. Victims of time-table urgency.

Back at home base though, every aircraft is supposed to get a thorough deep clean. Nose to tail scrub-out “with sodium hypochlorite diluted to a strength of 100mg/l and a 5% solution of formalin, which is itself a 40% solution of formaldehyde gas in water” exactly per the official World Health Organisation cleaning of aircraft guide.

Wipe-down procedures are laid in detail in this impressive manual. Yet still people keep coming down with bugs – cabin crew particularly, exposed to it more often.

What’s wrong?

Are airlines skimping on the job, or are these procedures simply not good enough?

From the looks of it, a bit of both. So if your airline is cutting corners, good luck to you.

But what about how it’s done?

Check out this short clip of cleaning under the seats.

It might look the business, but remember, space is really tight when you’re a passenger, so a lot of stuff winds up under the seats – shoes, bags, snacks, food debris from inflight meals, magazines, nappies, inflight blanket – you name it. Not just on the floor itself, but pushed up on the underside of seats, against the wall, wherever it’s possible to squash something.

Half the job

Uh, huh. But only the floor is cleaned. Thorough enough, but missing out any smears there might be elsewhere. Go through the WHO manual and you’ll see that detailed though it is, there’s lots of other places get missed too – behind things, under things, in the cracks in between things.

Easy places for germs to lurk. Like norovirus. Or Ebola if your aircraft is flying that way.

Which means that even though your plane might be cleaned and disinfected several times over, it can still harbour germs that can get you – as this Air New Zealand case showed up in 2009.

So why aren’t these measures enough? There are measures for avoiding bugs like norovirus, why aren’t they working?

One reason is our mind-set.

If we don’t catch a bug by breathing it in, we think of it as being spread by physical contact – touching each other, or touching surfaces like grab handles, seat backs and armrests (fomites) – actually contracting it through the skin.

ALL germs are airborne

Ahem. Ever noticed what happens when you swirl around in a dusty room? Clouds of stuff everywhere, sometimes so thick you can’t see – floating around, taking an age to settle back down.

Germs are like that – floating around in the air, all the time. And they’re millions of times smaller than a dust speck – invisible, riding the air in their billions – often small enough to go right through your aircraft’s HEPA air conditioning filters without stopping.

Which means clean all the surfaces without cleaning the interior air, and the airlines are only doing half the job. In the still moments at the gate before you step aboard, these germs have time to settle – ready for your hand to make contact on the seat back, as you steady yourself to sit down.

Hello, norovirus.

Unless of course, your airline is using a Hypersteriliser – a machine that kills germs by spraying them with hydrogen peroxide. A lot safer than sodium hypochlorite or formaldehyde – a banned substance anyway in European biocides.

Vaporised hydrogen peroxide is already proven to be superior in ridding germs from aircraft. But by ionising the hydrogen peroxide into a plasma, the Hypersteriliser is even more effective.

Plus performance germ-killing

Two things happen with ionisation.

The hydrogen peroxide molecules become actively charged, like magnets with the same poles together, immediately trying to escape each other. This forces them to disperse in all directions, up through the air and hard up against all surfaces, burrowing deep into cracks to avoid each other.

The charged molecules are actively attracted to the opposite charge of viruses and bacteria, latching onto them in mid-air or wherever they happen to be – oxidising them to oblivion.

The stuff doesn’t clean the plane – that job still has to be done first. But it does get rid of the germs – all of them – to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Your plane is now sterile. 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria – gone. No norovirus, no anything. (Tweet this)

Just the ticket, eh?

You might like to mention this to your airline next time.

It’ll keep you out of trouble – and your cabin crew would be glad to know.

Originally posted 2015-04-23 11:50:32.

How your child can survive iffy kid hygiene

Dirty hands around boy
Kid hygiene – you really don’t want to know

Time to start winning the battle.

Though you may have to concede the “Go, clean your teeth” issue.

A minor setback. Serious Colgate moments will start happening from the first date.

Out of your hands

It’s what you can’t supervise that’s the worry. Out of sight and running free, the last thing on their minds is washing their hands or watching how they eat.

Like the stomach-wrenching bout of gastro after comidas rapidas from that street vendor in Spain?

No es su culpa – that was eating with dirty hands from not finding the loo after watching Darth Vader in Guerra de las Galaxias.

Kid hygiene. Out of sight and out of control.

Where they’re vulnerable

Especially at school.

350 like-minded young terrors all bigging it up, defying authority, avoiding soap and water – ‘cos it’s sissy.

All together under one roof. 30 to a class – all breathing the same air, touching the same things, sharing the same space.

Tough creatures, yes. Cast-iron immune systems from eating dirt as toddlers. But growing up fast – increasingly vulnerable to viruses and bacteria their systems have never confronted before. Or coming down with bugs they somehow got away with last time.

Iffy, all right. Not safe at all.

Because sure, the school gets cleaned every night. Tough regulations, class-rooms vacuumed out, basins and toilets wiped down with bleach, all rubbish taken away.

But what about the things kids touch?

Invisible risk

Pencils, crayons, paper, text books, computer keyboards, door handles, taps, loo flushes – and the favourite, underneath the desk where the used chewing gum gets stuck?

What about the classroom air-space – still lingering with somebody’s coronation chicken stashed away two days ago, and uncontrolled farts from baked beans in that day’s school lunch?

What about the things you can’t see too? Invisible viruses and bacteria – as many as 30 billion to a cubic foot – floating on the air and riding the draughts.

Waiting for the kids to come back tomorrow. Waiting for the two or three who will touch their faces once too often.

Rhinovirus – so tiny, a single cell can drop THROUGH a terra cotta roof tile. Or norovirus, the holiday favourite – highly contagious by the slightest skin contact.

The classrooms might get cleaned, but the germ threshold stays the same. A lurking threat unchecked by iffy kid hygiene. Luck of the draw who gets infected next.

Hospital-grade protection

Unless the school is using a Hypersteriliser.

In just twenty minutes, ionised hydrogen peroxide gas plasma reduces that germ threshold to zero. (Tweet this) Oxidising viruses and bacteria to shreds. Reducing the iffyness somewhere closer to safe. No germs, period.

Not compensating for unwashed hands after using the loo, of course. Or chewing pencils that have been on the floor. Or any other party tricks of kid hygiene.

Log 6 Sterility Assurance Level

But it is a safety net. A reassurance that your kid’s classroom is sterile to hospital operating room standards when everyone enters in the morning.

After that, it depends on how persuasive you are at encouraging life habits.

Nerve-wracking, yes. But WE got through it.

So will they – with much better odds in their favour.

Originally posted 2015-04-22 11:16:59.

Whole rooms sterile safe like surgical instruments

Girl student raises hand
Safe from viruses and bacteria – in this room the germ threshold is zero

Hotels know the concept.

It’s why glasses in the bathroom are wrapped in paper – and why there’s a band across the loo.

Sanitised for your protection.

Feel-good reassurance that your room is safe and free from germs.

If only

Wouldn’t that be great?

Thing is though, that “sanitised” only means clean.

And there’s a huge difference between clean and safe.

Sure it smells clean. Except all an air freshener does is mask odours.

But hey, clean is good. It’s the first part of setting your mind at rest.

Because better still and right now, sterile surroundings are possible. With scares like Ebola and MRSA around – they’re rapidly becoming part of our everyday. Real hospital operating-room sterile, the same as a heart surgeon’s instruments.

Hospital safe

Easy too – much simpler than the sterilising autoclaves you’ll find in hospitals – which typically require high temperatures and partial vacuums to make them work.

OK, the business of cleaning still has to be done. Dirt is dirt, that requires physical scrubbing, wiping and vacuuming to be removed.

But microscopically small, germs still remain – less than before, but still a hazard. And because you can’t scrub air, they’re still filling the empty space that is most of a room – lighter than air and able to survive for weeks or more.

Time to bring in the Hypersteriliser – about the size of a small wheelie-bin, and just as manoeuvrable. Ready to sterilise your room to the same Log 6 Sterility Assurance Level that hospitals demand. All at the touch of a button.

Like hospital sterilisers, the Hypersteriliser uses ionised hydrogen peroxide gas plasma that destroys virus and bacteria cells by oxidising them into oblivion.

Low temperature ionisation

The difference is ionisation by electricity instead of heat – kinder to sensitive materials, generating less moisture and leaving no residues. And of course, instead of a small cubby-hole, the entire room becomes the sterilising chamber.

The ionised hydrogen peroxide is released into the room in an ultra-fine mist – a safe and ultra-low 6% solution, the same as you might buy in the chemist to whiten your teeth.

The cloud of molecules disperses rapidly in all directions – repelled from each other by the negative charge they all have – forcing them to the far limits of the enclosed space, hard against furniture, equipment, walls, floor and ceiling or any other objects in the room.

And of course, deep into any cracks or crevices that let them escape each other further.

The charge also energises them, releasing ozone, ultraviolet light, hydroxyl radicals and highly reactive oxygen species – oxidising atoms that actively seize harmful pathogens, attracted by their positive charge – latching onto them and ripping them to shreds.

This action dissipates the charge, the hydrogen peroxide reverts to oxygen and small amounts of water, which immediately evaporate.

How do you know it works?

You can’t see germs anyway, so you can’t see when they’re not there either.

But here’s a clue.

One indication that bacteria are active is the smell caused by infection or their reaction with organic substances. After hydrogen peroxide treatment, all odours should be gone.

The other giveaway is mould.

Dirty black and difficult to remove when active, it subsides to a pale grey as its cells die off with oxidising. Its discolouration is still there of course, but now an easy wipe should take it off – job done. No mould, no germs.

What haven’t we told you?

Ah yes, if you’re worried about using chemicals to make the room sterile, remember that hydrogen peroxide is manufactured by the body as its own germ-fighting defence. It’s a chemical yes, but occurs naturally to do exactly the same thing.

So there you have it. A way to make rooms safely sterile in around 20 – 40 minutes, depending on size.

It doesn’t kill the germs we might carry around on our bodies, or inside us.

But it does reduce the germ threshold to zero so we can’t catch anything new when we walk in.

Yes, prevention is better than cure. So here’s a hospital-type way to stay out of hospital and stay healthy too.

Should help with all the pressures they’re having right now. Phew!

Originally posted 2015-04-20 12:11:06.

Germ Wars: auto-sterile defences move closer

Asking doctor
Emergency time is short – how long do we have to get completely sterile?

HAIs on the increase.

Antimicrobial resistance more unchecked than ever before.

The beginning of the end?

Not if Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn have anything to do with it.

They’ve just taken delivery of one of those American UV sterilising jobbies for evaluation. The thing that zaps pathogens with a blast of pulsed xenon.

Turning the tide

Way to go, QEH.

ANY move against infections is hugely good for all of us.

Especially the automated kind.

Because disinfecting and sterilising by hand is not just a thankless labour intensive schlep.

It takes forever and it’s too easy to miss bits.

High touch surfaces and work tops of course – but what about underneath things? Or behind medical equipment with all those coils and tubes and wires? Or the massive bit that never gets done because you can’t scrub empty space – the surrounding air in every room?

Zap! The American jobbie will do most of it. The UV rays attack virus and bacteria cell DNA, destroying it almost immediately. So it’s quick too, everything in sight sterilised in under ten minutes.

Short, sharp hits in places with a time crunch, wow.

But not everywhere.

UV’s Achilles heel

Because the UV rays only work in straight lines radiating out from the machine. Underneath and behind things still need attention. Follow-up hand-wipes on grab-rails and handles for instance.

A mega-step in the right direction though. Nailing anywhere from 60 – 80% of pathogens dead in minutes.

Especially those in the air. So microscopically small – but floating around – lying in wait in the biggest undefended space in any hospital room – more than 80% in some high-ceilinged wards.

Zap! Sorted. Zap! Sorted.

Imagine one of those in a hard-pushed A&E. No time to catch your breath, the next patient is in for treatment stat – and at least most of the place is sterilised. A fleet of smaller, inexpensive versions like the Hyperpulse, could chop infections massively.

So is 100 percent auto-sterile possible? Yes, with hydrogen peroxide plasma. (Tweet this)

Total room sterilisation

Ask the team in the haematology unit at Salford Royal NHS. For two years now, they’ve been holding infections in check with Hypersteriliser machines.

OK, they do take forty minutes to do a room, not ten.

But the ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide plasma mist that they disperse clobbers all viruses and bacteria completely. Any room treated with these things is sterile to Log 6 – 99.9999% of all germs totally annihilated.

Like a kind of super-gas, the hydrogen peroxide ions are charged – each molecule actively trying to get away from the same negative charge of all its neighbours. This spreads the plasma everywhere, forcing it hard against walls, ceilings, beds and furniture. Deep into cracks too, where hand-wipe cleaning cannot reach.

In the same instant, the negative charges actively reach out to grab positively-charged viruses and bacteria, releasing oxygen atoms at them that rip them to shreds. Boosted with silver, this action is multiplied three times over and more.

Forty minutes and it’s all over – any remaining mist reverting to harmless oxygen and water, which immediately evaporates. It can’t cure the patient, but at least you know the room you put them in is safe and totally sterile.

The war of course, never stops.

But it’s reassuring to know we have some effective weapons.

Originally posted 2015-04-01 14:18:30.

Why can’t you blast computer viruses with hydrogen peroxide?

Angry woman with computer
The only good virus
is a dead virus

Yes, a virus on your computer is the pits.

Especially the kind that don’t roll over dead – that keep re-infecting, over and over again.

Which is why, with apologies, there was no blog yesterday.

And why today’s is hung over with this bit of a rant.

Ctrl-Alt-Del

Because a really pernicious virus is like Ebola.

All the vital functions of your computer start shutting down, the entire system is under attack.

And it’s not just what it does to your day – that’s your whole life going down the tubes.

You don’t come back from Ebola unless you’re very lucky. And you don’t come back from a major computer infestation unless you’re very lucky too.

But here’s the bad part.

You can’t even have a go at your computer with hydrogen peroxide.

Super germ-killer that it is, even the industrial strength 30% solution has no effect on infected hard drives or CPUs.

Infuriating that.

Reliable germ-killer

Because hydrogen peroxide can take out any biological virus or bacteria easy-peasy.

Basically like water with an extra oxygen atom, it rips harmful pathogens apart by oxidising them. The extra oxygen atoms release to tear apart their cell structures beyond any chance of survival.

They are gone.

Especially when you use a Hypersteriliser – the thing that mists up the room for an hour or so and annihilates all the germs. Yes, you’re right, it takes sterilising rooms to a whole new level.

So why haven’t they made one for computers?

Clever thing, that Hypersteriliser.

Instead of just spraying willy-nilly – an iffy and very watery fogging method that needs strong concentrations of hydrogen peroxide to work – it mists up the place with an ultra-fine spray that is finer than water vapour.

Ionised into plasma

Finer than just about anything, because it’s ionised.

More eco-friendly too because it allows lighter concentrations – just 6%, the same as you buy in the chemist for disinfecting cuts and scrapes.

But with a massive difference.

Ionising the hydrogen peroxide changes its state to more like a gas, actually behaving like a plasma. Every molecule acquires an electrical charge, buzzing with energy.

As the micro-mist leaves the nozzle, these molecules jump to escape from each other – two objects with the same charge repel each other, remember your O Level science?

That means they disperse quickly, as far away from each other as they possibly can. But contained by the walls and ceiling of the room, so they pile in wherever they can get. On every surface, horizontal or vertical. Underneath them, behind them, and into every crack and crevice.

All the places that normal wipe cleaning – and disinfection – can’t reach.

It’s a dry mist too. Safe with electrical connections – especially sensitive health-care machines. Tiny voltages are unaffected, there’s no moisture around keyboards or input sockets.

The killer charge

That same charge though, attracts the stuff to every opposite-charged object – tables, work surfaces, instruments, machines, floors, walls, ceilings.

Everything floating in the air too. Like microscopically invisible pathogens – viruses and bacteria swarming around to infect things.

The charged hydrogen peroxide is attracted like a magnet – actively reaching out and grabbing hold.

The oxygen atoms release, and rip the pathogen cells to pieces – end of story.

Well, almost.

Because the stuff is just water with an extra oxygen atom, right? So that’s all that’s left – oxygen and water. But in such small quantities, it evaporates almost immediately.

And the silver bullet

Oh, and yes, did we mention the silver?

To give this ionised hydrogen peroxide triple-whammy hyper performance, colloidal silver boosts its killing power by over three times. Any virus hit by that is dead in an instant – including Ebola.

So why can’t we have this stuff for computers? (Tweet this)

Come on, you geeks. How hard can it be?

Originally posted 2015-03-18 12:36:14.