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BIOCIDES: THERE When it comes to infection control, the use of biocides as an additive in


In recent years the arguments for and against the use of biocides have intensified. Some pro-biocide organisations (typically manufacturers utilising biocides in their products) are making bolder claims than ever before. In the absence of firm evidence to support these claims, however, there are concerns that these additives may be having no positive impact on infection control. At the same time, newly-published research is painting an increasingly worrying picture regarding the long-term effects of these substances on human and animal health, and on the environment. These issues are being debated widely by academics and regulatory bodies throughout the world.


This article will aim to outline the arguments that are being put forward by organisations on both sides. It will provide an update on the regulatory status of silver biocides, from bodies including the European Chemical Agency’s Biocidal Products Committee and the US Food and Drug Agency. Lastly, it will explain Altro’s current policy regarding use of biocides.


26 | HEALTHCARE


PRO-BIOCIDE CLAIMS Organisations on both sides of the divide agree on the need for effective infection control, particularly in sites such as hospitals and commercial kitchens. Those for and against the use of biocides differ, however, on the best practice recommended for hygiene in these environments. They also disagree about the effectiveness (and therefore the advisability) of using biocides.


For some years, organisations backing the use of biocides in areas where infection control is paramount have argued that a range of silver-based additives used in products for the healthcare environment are capable of slowing the growth of bacteria, mildew and mould. The process they describe is one in which silver ions block the ‘food’ required by the bacteria by interfering with the surface of the microbes and coating them. These organisations argue that incorporating silver ions into products used in the hospital or commercial kitchen will reduce the spread of infection.


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