Tag Archives: ultra violet

Why normal sterilising is just not good enough

Woman doctor in mask
Safe isn’t safe
until it’s 100% sterile

However you look at it, the job is a schlep.

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.

Ultra violet

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.

Ozone

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.

Vaporised wetness

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?

Ionised efficiency

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.

Originally posted 2015-03-04 13:25:47.

Killers in the bathroom – which bug will you catch?

Woman washing face
Should you ever trust
your face-cloth again?

Last week’s post about dirty make-up brushes, started the wheels going round.

It’s not just make-up brushes – how about all the other stuff?

Routine, yes – but seriously scary.

Especially getting up in the morning.

So most of us start with the toothbrush, right? Rinse it under the tap, squeeze out some toothpaste, straight into brushing.

Germs are lurking

Er… Except where was the toothbrush when you started? Ready in a mug next to the mirror? Rinsed off and standing there since last night? “Rode hard and put away wet”?

Ew!

Germs and moisture, remember? And this is the season – flu, colds, norovirus – take your pick. Your toothbrush has been up all night surrounded by all of them.

Where’s the boiling water! Where’s the Milton!

Better still, where’s the toothbrush steriliser?

Ultra violet safeguard

Because if you want to be safe, you’ve got to ninja out those germs before they get started. And locking your toothbrush in a UV box for ten minutes is about the best way to do it. The ultra violet destroys the germs DNA, viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance.

Want proof the germs are there?

Take a good hard look round the edge of your wash basin. With all the water splashes, chances are good you’ll see little flecks of black along the grouting. Mould, fungus, breeding ground for all kinds of germs. Sprinkle some Glo Germ, which shows up germs under UV light, and you’ll be horrified.

Sure, you bleach them out with a regular wipe down. But what about your face-cloth, sponge, razor and nail brush? Used all the time, always wet. Even your towel. More of a hazard than you might have imagined.

Hospital discipline

Not the kind of games they play in hospital – where a routine scrub-up is a rigorous procedure.

Eight careful steps and five minutes of meticulous washing. Properly aseptic, not touching anything. Everything sealed before use and disposable. Sterilised scrubbing brush, sponge and nail pick – disposable one-time towels too.

If that’s too much PT in the morning, you can get all kinds of UV sterilisers to help. The drawer type is used by salons for manicure instruments and – you guessed it – make-up brushes.

For towels and bigger items, they look more like a kind of microwave oven – warming up the towels and blitzing them with UV, all in one hit.

Most flexible of all is the wand – though waving it around they way most people might probably achieves little. Proper irradiation requires closer to ten minutes.

Saving lives

UV certainly does the business. It’s press-button easy, click on/off – used wherever sterilising needs to be set up quickly. Of course medics still have to gown and scrub up with full kit for infectious diseases, but UV light tunnels are the failsafe to ensure no germs get in or out of operating areas.

Mobile UV robots might be overkill for your bathroom, they’re starting to be indispensable in doctor’s surgeries and dental clinics. So quick and simple, busy practices can handle high volumes of patients a day, secure that facilities are properly sterile before the start of each appointment.

Still want to use that toothbrush? You can get disposables, you know – even with paste.

In boxes of 100 too. Which makes it around 12p to save your life.

Originally posted 2014-12-01 14:26:41.

Today’s health: queasy tum, germy, flu later

Deluge of germs
Look out!
There’s a germ storm coming!

You wear a raincoat if it rains – probably carry an umbrella.

But how about a germcoat?

Every day, every one of us moves around with a personal aura of around 3 million microbes – smaller than raindrops or dust, hanging onto us by our own static charge.

Germ clouds gathering

Some of them are viruses, some of them bacteria. A few of them are even benign.

But count on it, the rest are out to get you any way they can – they just can’t reach you, floating around as individual cells. Your skin is too thick, you blink too often, your nose filters them out, and  you keep your mouth closed.

There’s more of them out there in clouds as well. Billions and billions. Norovirus, rhinovirus, e.coli, campylobacter, salmonella, c.difficile, AIDS – so many, some of them don’t have names yet.

Don’t worry though, as long as they’re not inside your body, you’re safe. Just don’t give them a chance by letting your hands get dirty or wolfing down some dodgy food.

Always at hazard

But it”s not that easy – things can happen.

That bloke next to you in the Underground suddenly explodes and a mist of vapour and ewwy bits flies through the air. Not single germs any more – just one gob of snot is loaded with millions – enough to gang up and enter your body if you’re careless enough.

Luckily you have handiwipes in your bag and can clean the stuff off. You’re only exposed for a few seconds, hopefully you’re OK. Not so easy with the stuff you might breathe, though. You’re right to try to move away.

Right to wipe your hands too. Unconsciously, most of us are always touching our faces – wiping eyes, rubbing cheeks, gesturing up to our mouths. Entry ports for germs if you just let them.

Never thought about any of this?

Out of sight, out of mind

Most people don’t. Out of sight out of mind.

Not like those dark winter clouds above, or the rain splattering down around us.

Germs, microbes, pathogens – they’re all too small to see. Several million could fit on the head of a pin – so to have 3 million or so always floating around us means they’re actually quite sparse – an empty day for them.

You’d freak if they were dyed with colour so you could see them though. Hit by the sudden reality that you’re not as safe as you thought you were. Threatened at every second.

Well, not exactly.

You’re not attacked by wild dogs every time you step outside your front door, are you? Creepy buzzards don’t swoop down from the sky.

The same with germs. Except they’re always with you on the spot and ready, waiting –  while the nearest pack of wild dogs could be several hundred miles away.

You’re no safer indoors, either. You can’t escape a germ cloud like sheltering from the rain.

Wrong.

Safe places

Indoors is the one place where we can make ourselves safest. But – out of sight, out of mind – we never do it.

Out in the open, there’s no holding germs back. And they’re out there all the way up to the troposphere – scientists have found bacteria happily thriving nine miles up and beyond, no problem.

Indoors is different. In a closed environment, we can control the air.

Look at hospital operating theatres, clean rooms and computer data centres. By pumping up the pressure greater than outside, no air or germs can get in, everything is pushed out.

The air can be filtered too. Protected by high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters that are fine enough to trap many of the pathogens that threaten us.

Protective measures

We can even sterilise the place – eliminate viruses and bacteria immediately.

The quick way is with short wave ultra violet light. A few seconds exposure at close range and BAM, it attacks the germ cells’ DNA and destroys them.

A whole room of course takes longer  – more time to reach places further from the light.

Better still is hydrogen peroxide, well-known as a germ-killer back in the Nineteenth Century. Souped up for the Twenty-First, it’s even more effective. Experiments have proved that in the gaseous state, it’s many times more efficient.

Difficult to work with though, as it decomposes easily. So the trick is to ionise it in liquid form and spray it out like a mist. Dispersed like this, its performance is formidable.

Ionising gives it a static charge that makes it spread more quickly, ultra-fine so it rises easily and reaches into cracks. The static charge also attracts it to germs, which it kills by oxidising – shoving oxygen atoms at them.

Neither viruses nor bacteria can survive this treatment – their cells are ripped to pieces. In twenty minutes – that’s all it takes – the average room is completely sterile. No germs, nothing.

Makes quite a difference to your health forecast, doesn’t it? If there aren’t any germs around, there’s nothing to touch you. You don’t get sick, you’re totally safe. And all it costs is about a fiver.

So why don’t hospitals, hotels, restaurants and schools use it all the time?

Well, why aren’t you wearing your germcoat?

Out of sight, out of mind. And most of the time, we’re healthy enough to get away with it.

Unless – cough, wheeze, sniffle – we’re careless or unlucky.

Originally posted 2014-11-21 15:04:05.

Yes Ma’am, this is a worldwide threat

Commando aiming rifle
Malaria is a bigger killer than Ebola

Worse than Ebola? Yes, definitely.

But not so ugly. Not so compelling to our morbid fascination with blood and pain and suffering.

Yesterday, Her Majesty the Queen reminded us* that our top-of-mind preoccupation with Ebola is deflecting us from an even greater threat.

One that kills more victims every day than the current Ebola outbreak has in total.

Malaria.

A threat to us all

You see, Ebola might be lethal, but we CAN actually kill it.

As a virus out in the open, we can attack it by oxidising, which rips its individual cells to pieces. Or we can blitz with ultra violet light, which destroys its DNA.

But malaria is not a virus. It’s a parasite spread by mosquitoes.

And like Ebola at the moment, there is no vaccine for it.

Make no mistake, malaria is way more deadly.

In 2012 the World Health Organisation put half the world at risk from malaria with 207 million cases reported and 627,000 deaths. Most of these were children under 15 – from parasites passed on by their mothers.

In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 200,000 infants die from it every year.

One child every 60 seconds.

So Her Majesty is right, we’re taking our eye off the ball.

We need to beat both Ebola and malaria in the same way.

Treat cause, not symptoms

Our mothers taught us this, but we never seem to remember – PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

Get to both of these killers before they get to us, and we’re safe.

In fact striking the first blow is fast becoming our most effective weapon.

Because right now, health professionals around the world are seriously worried about resistance to both these diseases.

Yesterday was European Antibiotic Awareness Day – underlined by the threat that more and more bacteria are developing immunity to treatment by antibiotics.

Widespread use, particularly through agriculture, has led to many antibiotics becoming completely ineffective. At a stroke, our major defence against infections – particularly in hospital surgical procedures – is gone.

Which means as soon as we find a cure for Ebola, it may be defeated. We need to clobber it first.

It’s the same with malaria.

Get those mosquitoes

Saturation use by agriculture of the insecticide DDT – originally intended as an indoor residual spray (IRS) – led to mosquitoes developing an immunity and a return to epidemic levels in poorer parts of the world like Ivory Coast, Angola, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Mali. The parasites are also drug resistant.

Sure mosquito nets help, especially those one treated with pyrethroids – made from an organic compound found naturally in the flowers of pyrethrum lilies. Harmless to humans, it attacks the nervous system of the mosquito and kills it.

Problem solved – but with a downside.

It’s also toxic to bees, fish and cats.

Bees pollinate the flowers of fruit trees and other food plants – and already this year bees in Britain are becoming scarce because of the warm, wet summer. Fish of course, are part of a whole long food chain. And cats have a whole army of people on their side.

So it’s back to DDT, as long as it’s used indoors. But pyrethroids work and are highly effective at killing mosquitoes. Along with other insecticides, they just need care.

Same thing with viruses and bacteria. They’re easily oxidised – particularly by ionised hydrogen peroxide. A quick spray of super-fine mist and ALL germs are gone – the whole place is sterilised.

Problem solved again – but also with a downside.

Oxidising kills ALL viruses and bacteria – including the useful ones. So again care has to be taken in how it’s done. Treating empty indoor areas room-by-room works best. Without people present there is no hazard and sterile rooms are safe to use afterwards.

Care and diligence

As long as we are watchful and careful, both Ebola and malaria can be overcome – and other dread diseases besides.

Thank you, Your Majesty, for bringing us up to the mark.

*At the launch a new leadership academy at Chatham House in London.

Originally posted 2014-11-19 14:53:50.

Luvvy-Duvvy Dentist Saves Lives

Indian Beauty
Pulsed ultra violet –
protection against pathogens in seconds

Blame British Airways. It was their sirloin steak that collapsed the tooth filling at 36,000 feet.

The very next chomp brought agony at 2.00 in the morning as the side of the tooth broke off onto the plastic plate.

Four more hours to Mumbai. With the paracetamol from the cabin attendant doing nothing at all. A pounding headache and cheek swollen out like a puffer fish.

Hurry up and wait

Murder at the airport. Ten hours to get a passport stamp, though it could only have been ten minutes. The hotel sent a car, hooray. Except the driver spoke no English – happy-happy cruising like we had all day.

Not nice to die at sunrise – in a strange place, thousands of miles from home.

Except the manager was brilliant. One look and he reached for the phone.

“Emergency please, doctor luvvy-duvvy.”

A mistake, surely. Or an unfamiliar Indian name.

Doctor Lavi Davi, that seemed about right.

The manager spun the driver round and shoved him at the car. “Jaldi karana,” he yelled and slammed the door.

No cruising now. Lewis Hamilton on steroids. Schoolkids, bikes, bullock carts, buses – all the people on the planet crammed into the single road ahead. No need for pain-killers, just triple double tranquillisers.

Another ten minutes that felt like ten hours.

The Empire sleeps on

Quieter side streets. A crumbling wall. A short dusty driveway to a broken down colonial relic of a house from the days of the Raj.

Doctor Luvvy-Duvvy in big letters on a purple signboard.

Out of the car in a cloud of dust. Through a crowded waiting room into air conditioned coolness and a waiting dentist’s chair.

The door shut.  Ah, sanity!

A big 4×4 pulled up outside. A flashy designer job for climbing up on pavements. Mercedes or Porsche or something. This would bend the debit card.

A nurse set up the chair. Flashy was right. The latest recliner model with all the goodies. She set up the splash-bib and Health & Safety glasses. Just like home.

“Doctor will be here now.” She nodded at the car outside the window.

A vision stepped in. Straight from a Bollywood movie. Poised, elegant and drop-dead gorgeous.

She pulled a purple smock over her head. The heart-shaped badge said Luvvy-Duvvy.

“Doctor Geetha Khan,” she said. Melodic, like wind chimes. “Let’s take a look.”

Silky smooth, surely a goddess. “The hotel said it was life or death.”

The gentle dental touch

Her fingers were careful, bred to handling crystal. The touch was confident. She knew her stuff.

Another ten minutes. Ten hours for discomfort. Ten seconds while this magical creature worked her miracle. Pain gone, swelling gone. Relief at being human again.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” It couldn’t be said enough.

She smiled. The whole world sighed.

Sitting up, slightly giddy. “Please tell me, I’m new to your country. Why Luvvy-Duvvy?

The smile broadened – somewhere the light shone brighter and flowers opened their petals.

Ultra violet germ killer

“Over there,” she pointed to a grey box on wheels, the Luvvy-Duvvy badge big across its front panel. “We named our practice after it – it saves lives.”

Luvvy-Duvvy?”

“Come.” She took my hand – instant, irreversible love.

Back into the crowded waiting room, the nurse coming too. The Doc-goddess had a remote in her hand. She pulled the door to, not quite closing it.

“Watch.”

Reflected purple light flickered off the wall panels inside.

Pulsed ultra-violet,” she said. “This is a hot country. People come straight in off the street, bringing all manner of germs. Take your chances outside, operating theatre inside.”

She nodded at the door. “Luvvy-Duvvy for the UV. That thing sterilises my operating room before and after every patient. Five minutes, bang.”

She pushed open the door. A long glass tube was subsiding back into the machine. “No viruses, no bacteria. I work with people’s open mouths every day. No infections on my watch.”

The crowded waiting room was watching.

“Please excuse me, this is a busy day,” she said. Wind chimes again. “Enjoy our country while you can. Just don’t chew on that side for a day or two.”

A miracle place, India. Can’t help loving the place.

Luvvy-duvvy me.

Originally posted 2014-11-18 17:47:07.