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Antimicrobials and biocides


| additives feature


Banishing the bugs


Antimicrobial additives compounded into plastics are used to prevent the growth of microbes, such as fungus, bacteria or algae. Although large volumes of biocides still go into protecting fl exible PVC in a range of applica- tions from shower curtains to roof membranes, many of the new products in the market are focused on creating “hygienic surfaces” on a wide range of polymers used in everything from medical devices to cutting boards. Demand for such antimicrobial protection continues


to grow, and ongoing research points to the effective- ness of antimicrobials embedded in plastics. However, companies must be careful to stay within the appropri- ate regulations for marketing claims on consumer and healthcare applications.


Healthcare applications Antimicrobials are playing an increasing role in healthcare facilities and medical devices, where the problem of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and antibiotic-resistant pathogens, such as MRSA and CRE, is ongoing. Early in 2015, for example, an outbreak of CRE in a California hospital was traced to specialized endoscopes that were contaminated even though they had been disinfected according to manufacturer’s standards, indicating a need for further layers of protection. Another problem area is high-touch surfaces, such as hospital bedrails, which are diffi cult to keep clean because of frequent use. Lise Moloney, director of business development for healthcare at Sciessent, which supplies Agion silver-


www.compoundingworld.com


Jennifer Markarian examines recent developments in antimicrobial


additives for plastics used in a variety of applications from medical devices to consumer goods


based antimicrobial technology, says: “A multifaceted approach to combating antibiotic-resistant infections, including surface cleaning, hand washing and several other strategies, is required. Yet as a means to limit the population of microorganisms between cleaning, surfaces containing silver antimicrobials could be used on bedrails, door handles, mobile diagnostic equipment and other high-touch surfaces that are close to susceptible patients.” High-touch surfaces might be cleaned once a day or


more with disinfectants, but the surface is quickly repopulated with bacteria, adds Ivan Ong, vice-presi- dent of research and development at Microban. “Normal disinfection practices are limited, and this situation calls for intrinsic, built-in protection that can be an effective complement to disinfection practices.” Although there are some current uses of antimicrobial surfaces, the healthcare area is open to further development, says Ong. Much focus is on silver-based antimicrobials, which


July 2015 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 35


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