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cleaning nanotechnology? For the last decade or so, photocatalytic
nanotechnology has been used as an external coating for buildings.
What's funny is that these coatings weren't being used to kill germs
or clean for wellness. They were used purely to keep the exterior of
buildings looking cleaner, and they accomplished this through another
unique property of this nanomaterial. Titanium dioxide happens
to be super hydrophilic, meaning it's an amazing wetting agent,
encouraging water to create a thin flm on the surface rather than
beading up. Particles get picked up by this flm of water, rinsing visible
dirt away each time it rains.
In the last couple of years, a small number of companies have
started applying this type of nanotechnology inside buildings.
In healthcare, for instance, there are critical, semi-critical, and
noncritical surfaces. For the most part, only critical surfaces have been
the focus of this type of service because of the relatively high cost of
application. However, nanotechnology-based products for high-traffc
touch points are proving cost effective for noncritical surfaces in health
care as well as education, hospitality, and food service.
In a recent study by Dr. Charles Gerba, microbiologist at the
University of Arizona, a single touch point, such as a door handle,
was inoculated with a harmless bacteria surrogate. Within two to
four hours, between 40 and 60 percent of the contact surfaces in the
entire offce building were contaminated. The bottom line is that
many common germs are spread by touching surfaces that have been
contaminated from a previous touch. This is where nanotechnology-
based self-cleaning surfaces really shine.
Traditional cleaning and disinfection is basically a one-time kill.
Can you imagine your cleaning staff having to disinfect a door handle
after each and every touch? Just like robots handle repetitive tasks in
manufacturing with great effciency and reliability, these ‘nanobots’
can work to clean a surface after every touch... without mistakes,
coffee breaks, or management.
We're all business people here, right? So it's not likely that we're
going to spend our budget on initiatives that are only good for
people or the planet. We need return on investment, and that's
where cleaning for wellness adds value. Just pick an industry --
any industry -- and you'll find businesses struggling to keep down
costs associated with illness. The cost of absenteeism in schools
averages US$500 (AU$674) per teacher and $110 (AU$148)
per student. In businesses, that figure is $1,685 (AU$2,271) per
employee. And in healthcare, we spend an estimated $30 billion
annually to treat HAIs.
With only about 50 percent of people washing their hands after
using the restroom (a sad but true fact), hand hygiene is a dominant
issue in today’s discussion. But let’s look more closely at that in real-
Let's say we improve hand washing compliance to 70 percent,
80 percent, or even 90 percent. That would be a tremendous
achievement, right? But at a compliance rate of 90 percent, you still
have one out of 10 people contaminating nearly every surface they
touch, negating much of the effort the other nine people have made to
keep their hands clean. This spreading of germs is exacerbated when
you have sick employees come to work, or 'presenteeism', as described
in ISSA’s Value of Clean (www.issa.com/value).
One hot area of research is in developing material science that
accentuates the photocatalytic action. Surface textures and properties
can help to attract and trap pathogens so that the nanotechnology
can do the killing faster and more thoroughly. In our research over
the last three years, this type of holistic approach, combining special
substrates, primers, and Ti02, has resulted in reliable three log
reductions for E. Coli and S. Aureus (each log equals a 90 percent
reduction). And in one test using the human Coronavirus, which was
done for Saudi Arabia during the MERS outbreak, all virus cells were
killed somewhere under 30 minutes.
Not surprisingly, the effcacy of this technology is getting better at
a rapid pace. New approaches using additives to Ti02 are producing
impressive results. A recent independent lab test we conducted using
new formula prototypes produced a 99.9998 percent reduction in
Staph A -- almost a six log reduction!
None of us want a sterile environment, but nanotechnology provides
a powerful approach to disinfection that has the potential to create
cleaner, healthier surfaces exactly where and when they are needed
around the clock. The next big thing in cleaning might just be
something very small indeed.
Professional cleaning product supplier, Oates, has been
assigned master distribution of NanoTouch in Australia and
the product will be available late 2015 -- early 2016 with an
offcial launch taking place in January 2016.
*Mark Sisson is co-founder of NanoTouch Materials and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nanoseptic.com.
Article reprinted with per mission from ISSA Today magazine (June 2015)
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