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Despite the best efforts of cleaners and managers, the irresponsible minority put others at risk by leaving hygiene

compromised in washrooms. Fortunately, a newly-patented innovation combats this common source of cross-contamination, as Dave Carson of P-Wave explains.

Washrooms almost inevitably consume a large chunk of cleaning budgets and for good reason. Users judge how a building is run by the cleanliness of its toilets. Facilities managers are also well aware that this space is both an incubator and interchange for germs.

Essential though that expenditure on consumables may be, there’s a major problem. One in three of us by all accounts do not wash our hands after using the toilet. It’s no wonder that harmful microbes are found on door furniture, especially washroom door push plates and handles, in large concentrations. E-coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Staph Aureus are among the common microbes colonising these touch points.

Clean hands pick up these pathogens, and damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to collect and spread bacteria. Given that a virus can spread from a door handle throughout a building in a few hours, as microbiologists have shown, the health risk is clear.

Facilities managers cannot enforce hand hygiene. But now, with the help of new silver ion technology, they can help protect us from the unclean habits of others. Silver’s anti-bacterial properties have long been exploited in healthcare, but the cost of this precious metal limited its use. The development of silver ion technology has enabled wider application in washing machines and refrigerators, and now in door furniture for washrooms and other high- traffic areas.

This technology is used in the coating of the P-Hold handle cover and P-Plate cover for push plates, which eliminate germs from the exit and entrance points of a washroom. They are easy to install, low cost and require no special maintenance beyond the normal cleaning regime.

This innovation is a highly significant development for washrooms, perhaps


the most critical front in the constant germ warfare threatening hygiene and health in our offices and public buildings.

Silver ions (Ag) are atoms of silver in an ionic state – with one or more electrons removed. On contact, these ions immediately penetrate the cell membrane of a microbe, destroying it and its DNA, preventing reproduction. Unlike chemicals, silver ion surfaces do not run the risk of mutations, creating resistant strains. Entirely safe for people, they eliminate a broad spectrum of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Independent testing – to the recognised international standard, ISO 22196 – shows that when applied to pull handles and push plates, silver ion covers eradicate 99.99% of bacteria, such as E-coli and Staph Aureus. For Salmonella, the kill rate was 98.6%.

Field trials confirm the potency of these products, and the extent of contamination on most door handles. Wickham Laboratory’s test focused on the pull door handles – to male and female toilets and canteen – in an office building with more than 80 employees. Both standard steel handles and the silver ion covers were swabbed after a week’s use and results compared. The covered handles were found to be 96.5% cleaner, on average.

The P-Hold handle cover can be fitted in less than 30 seconds without special tools or training to any typical D-handle; the silver ion cover continues to combat pathogens for six months.

Each has a visual indicator so staff know when they should be replaced. These products also show washroom users that their health is in good hands. With an annual cost less than the daily minimum wage, they also help building managers get a better grip on hygiene, without losing it on the budget.

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