Not just missing, but gone completely.
First thing in the morning usually. As the place opens up and new staff come on.
Hunt around all you like, there’s nary a trace. Quite the opposite of the potential crisis last night.
Breathe deep, breathe easy. Because now, there’s no germs.
They’ve been taken out by one of the new germ-busting machines that are starting to revolutionise health care from top to bottom.
Normal germ control is at best haphazard and often ineffective.
It’s also labour intensive, a schlep to do, usually seen as a low-grade dogsbody job with no motivation. Executed with primitive mop-and-bucket and wipe-down rag.
More “low-giene” than hygiene
With methods like these, even deep clean procedures often fall short – usually relying on more concentrated solutions of bleach. Backed up by impressive-sounding but equally ineffective applications of steam .
Downside issues are basic but crucial. How can you be sure that all areas have been reached, particularly remote cracks and crevices? And how can you ensure that the air is sterilised too?
Answer, you can’t.
Which is why the germ-busting machines are so vital.
Two types are finding favour, both faster and way more effective than wipe-down hand-work.
Ultraviolet irradiation. Or whole-room subjection to an oxidising agent.
UV units are quick and simple. Just wheel one into place, vacate the room and turn on the “death rays”. Five or ten minutes exposure is usually long enough to destroy most pathogenic microbes. A real asset in places with high occupancy turnover, like dentists’ operating rooms.
Against that, repeat exposures in different positions are necessary to fully cover a room – as a light source, UV’s big disadvantage is untouched shadow areas.
So either room treatment is superficial – fine if it’s largely empty to minimise shadows – or fiddly, requiring four or five re-dos to be sure of coverage, a downtime of an hour or more.
Oxidising machines take more time, with varying success depending on what they use and how they operate – basically by destroying the cell structure of viruses and bacteria.
Usual procedure is to generate the oxidising agent – ozone or hydrogen peroxide – for long enough to fill the air space and ensure contact with all surfaces. Leave it time to kill the pathogens, then vent the room clear.
Exposure time is of course the critical element – and why steam is less effective. Steam needs extended heat to kill, but is nearly always applied by hose or lance that can only be momentary.
Bacteria easily survive such flashes – like a quick tap of the kettle with your finger. They even multiply in the increased moistness left behind. Nothing like as effective as oxidising, which rips them apart by shoving oxygen atoms at them.
Top of the class for potency is definitely ozone, a kind of super-oxygen itself – but highly unstable in normal atmosphere and dangerous to humans.
More friendly is hydrogen peroxide, the very same substance that the body itself produces as an internal germ-fighter.
It’s also potent – the Royal Navy once used it to power submarines – but equally effective in milder preparations, the 3% solution your chemist sells as mouthwash is really quite gentle.
The big differences are in method of dispersal and again, contact time.
Effortless gas plasma
Most machines fog up a room with a solution of vaporised hydrogen peroxide strong enough (32%) to kill germs on short contact – relying on the force of pump action to spread across all areas and surfaces.
Such concentration is hazardous to humans and corrosive to some materials. It’s also damp, pushing up humidity levels which bacteria like, requiring a lengthy dry-out process afterwards before the room can be used again.
The breakthrough is to ionise the hydrogen peroxide. Morphing it from a gaseous vapour into a plasma – electrically charged particles that themselves produce further antimicrobials. Hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, nitrogen species. Plus even ozone and UV, both germ fighters in their own right.
The effect is dynamic, boosting a mild 6% solution into super-performance because of its charge. Press the start button on the machine – it’s called a Hypersteriliser – and see for yourself. (Video demo here).
On exit from the machine, all particles are negative, causing them to repel each other aggressively, forcing them apart. This drives them outwards in all directions, hard up against all surfaces and penetrating deep into cracks, trying to escape each other. Dispersal is 100%.
Equally aggressive, the negative charge vigorously reaches out and grabs at positively charged viruses and bacteria. Locked together, contact time is prolonged, the microbes don’t stand a chance.
The killing action depletes the charge – decomposing into harmless oxygen and water, in quantities so small it evaporates quickly to nothing.
Result, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – meaning 99.9999% effectiveness, that’s down to 1 in a million. There are no germs, the place is safe. Until us humans walk in and start repopulating with our own personal germ clouds.
No germs, no problems.
Gone missing at Salford Royal Hospital, Doncaster and Bassetlaw, South Warwickshire, Coventry & Warwickshire, Burton, Queen Victoria in East Grinstead, Tameside – and a rapidly increasing number of clinics and surgeries across the country.
Gone missing and good riddance.
Because get rid of all the germs and they don’t come back. No more repeat outbreaks that have griefed so many healthcare centres recently.
And good health to all of us.
Picture Copyright: citalliance / 123RF Stock Photo