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GermBloc Germ Protection


WillSpeed Technologies
Antimicrobial Surface Treatment
NEW and unique products that provide a solution to the growing worldwide concern of the spread of contagious germs.
Perfectly suited for healthcare, travel and other high risk
exposure areas.

Home-washed surgical scrubs at greater contamination risk

The study, carried out by Bioscience Laboratories in the US and sponsored by Molnlycke Health Care US, found that home-laundered scrubs cleaned and ready to wear had as many bacteria in them as facility-laundered, third-party laundered and single-use scrubs which had been worn for a day. A total of 80 surgical scrub garments, tops and bottoms were collected from multiple healthcare facilities across the US. There were 10 sets of scrubs in each category: single-use; home-laundered; facility-laundered and third-party laundered.

“According to these results, a healthcare professional beginning his or her shift in home-laundered scrubs would essentially be wearing scrubs with the same quantity of bacteria as the scrubs of a healthcare professional finishing a shift in worn scrubs,” said Heather Beitz, director of clinical research for Molnlycke Health Care.

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Source: Cleanroom Technology

Triclosan Exposure Levels Increasing in Humans

Levels of the chemical triclosan have increased in humans by an average of 50 percent since 2004, according to newly updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, a new study out of the University of Toledo has found that both triclosan and triclocarban can enter the food chain through of the use of contaminated wastewater or fertilizer in agricultural fields. Each of these findings on its own is troubling, but together they make the case for banning the two chemicals even stronger, according to health experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.

Triclosan and triclocarban are found in consumer and personal care products, such as hand soap, labeled antibacterial or antimicrobial. But the two chemicals are suspected endocrine disruptors that can interfere with hormones needed for the brain and reproductive system to develop properly. The NRDC says that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has admitted that using hand soap containing these chemicals actually does not work any better than regular soap. Last week, the NRDC sued the FDA to force the agency to issue a final rule on the safety and effectiveness of the two chemicals that has been three decades in the making.

Read the full article here

EPA Acts on Petition to Regulate Nano-Silver Products

Acknowledging the critical need for in-depth review of products utilizing nanotechnology pesticides, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened a 60-day public comment period in response to a petition filed by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), which demands the agency stop the sale of numerous consumer products with nano-silver.

In the Federal Registry notice released yesterday, EPA determined that ICTA's petition "raises serious issues that potentially affect private and public sector stakeholders" and is instituting a 60-day period for public comment. EPA will review the petition and any comments received "before deciding how best to respond to the petition."

ICTA filed a legal petition in May 2008 challenging EPA's failure to regulate nanomaterials in pesticides. The 100-page petition addresses the serious human health concerns raised by these unique substances, as well as their potential to be highly destructive to natural environments, and calls on the EPA to fully analyze the health and environmental impacts of nanotechnology, regulate nano products as new pesticides, and require labeling of all products.

"It's unfortunate that it has taken seven months, but the agency has taken the first step towards potential regulation of these products and protection of the environment," said George Kimbrell, ICTA staff attorney. "We are confident the agency will do the right thing and properly classify these products as pesticides."

Nanotechnology is a powerful new platform technology for taking apart and reconstructing nature at the atomic and molecular level. The same size and chemical characteristics that give manufactured nanoparticles unique properties-tiny size, vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, high reactivity-can also create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks.

Increasingly, manufacturers are infusing many and diverse consumer products with nanoparticle silver (nano-silver) for its enhanced "germ killing" abilities. Nano-silver is now the most common commercialized nanomaterial. There are more than 260 nano-silver products currently on the market, ranging from household appliances and cleaners to clothing, cutlery, and children's toys to personal care products and electronics.

"Nano-silver is an unknown threat not only to the environment but also to human health," Kimbrell said. "The public has no idea that consumer products contain potentially dangerous nanoparticles because no labeling is currently required."

Silver is known to be toxic to fish, aquatic organisms and microorganisms and recent scientific studies have shown that nano-silver is much more toxic and can cause damage in new ways. A 2008 study showed that washing nano-silver socks released substantial amounts of the nano-silver into the laundry discharge water, which will ultimately reach natural waterways and potentially poison fish and other aquatic organisms. Another 2008 study found that releases of nano-silver destroy benign bacteria used in wastewater treatment. The human health impacts of nano-silver are still largely unknown, but some studies and cases indicate that the nanomaterial has the potential to increase antibiotic resistance and potentially cause kidney and other internal problems.

Many of the nano-silver infused products are for children (baby bottles, toys, stuffed animals, and clothing) or otherwise create high human exposures (cutlery, food containers, paints, bedding and personal care products) despite little research on nano-silver's potential human health impacts. Studies have questioned whether traditional assumptions about silver's safety are sufficient in light of the unique properties of nano-scale materials.

For more on the potential dangers of nano materials, link to the Grist story below.


Hand Sanitizers’ Bug-Destroying Claims Aren’t Always True

A decade of pesky germs, from SARS to avian flu to H1N1, has given rise to dozens of products bragging about their microbe-killing properties. Everything from hand-sanitizing liquids to products like computer keyboards, shopping carts and tissues tout that they kill 99.9%, or 99.99%, of common bacteria and fungi.

But some of these numbers look like the test scores in a class with a very generous grading curve. They often don't include all pesky germs, and are based on laboratory tests that don't represent the imperfections of real-world use. Human subjects, or countertops, in labs are cleaned first, then covered on the surface with a target bug. That is a far cry from a typical kitchen or a pair of grimy hands.

Advertising near-total effectiveness is common; AT&T Wireless's television ads touting its network coverage of 97% of the U.S. is just the latest example. But it is especially common for health products. Naturally, companies make the claims because they sell products.

"The 99.99% message is more powerful among consumers than 'antibacterial' or 'germ kill' alone," Maria Lovera, senior brand manager of skin care for Playtex Products Inc., maker of Wet Ones antibacterial wipes, wrote in an email.

In a study soon to be published, University of New Mexico biochemist Laurence Cole found that in two of three brands' home-pregnancy tests, fewer than two-thirds of pregnancies among women who had missed their periods were detected.

Often, such products do work, but they discount the likelihood of human error. Marketers who claim birth-control methods are 99% effective sometimes are relying on perfect usage.

James Trussell, director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, has compared pregnancy rates in clinical trials of contraceptives with those reported by users of the same contraceptives in federal surveys. For some methods, the typical user's pregnancy risk is 10 times higher, or more, over a year of use than that of the average user in a controlled study.

Hand sanitizers also tend to whitewash actual human usage from their laboratory testing.

"It's the optimal environment for the hand sanitizer to work," says Jason Tetro, a microbiologist at the University of Ottawa. "This differs greatly from the real-world setting."

Mr. Tetro showed the difference by testing three hand-sanitizer products for CBC News last month among eighth graders in Hamilton, Ontario. Three popular sanitizers killed between 46% and 60% of microbes on the students' hands, far short of 99.99%. Bugs that aren't killed by sanitizers aren't necessarily more dangerous than those that are. But the more that remain, the greater the chance of infection, doctors say.

The companies whose products were evaluated responded that those lab tests are what health regulators require. "Real-world application is completely subject to interpretation," says Jay Beckman, head of sales for MGS Soapopular Inc., the U.S. distributor of Soapopular, one of the products tested. "Nothing is guaranteed."

Like hand sanitizers, soap can be effective, but factoring in human nature can stand in the way. In one study in late 1990s, Navy recruits were directed by their commanding officers to wash at least five times a day. That and other measures helped reduce outpatient visits for respiratory illness by 45%. After two years, compliance was so spotty that researchers didn't have enough people participating to analyze the potential benefits of soap.

Without commanding officers to direct them, civilians can be even more problematic hand cleaners, says Allison Aiello, epidemiologist at the University of Michigan's school of public health. She notes that few hand washers follow a rule of thumb, endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to keep scrubbing for the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice (about 20 to 25 seconds).

To cite a 99.9% fatality rate, manufacturers don't have to kill 99.9% of all known bugs. Regulations don't require them to disclose which bugs they exterminate, just that the products are effective against a representative sample of microbes. For instance, many products can't kill clostridium difficile, a gastrointestinal scourge, or the hepatitis A virus, which inflames the liver. Yet by killing other, more common bugs, they can claim 99.9% effectiveness.

Rules governing claims of efficacy depend on different agencies. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency oversees claims about products intended for inanimate objects, while the Food and Drug Administration regulates skin products, including hand sanitizers.

To claim that other microbe-unfriendly products such as household cleaners and clothing kill 99.99% of germs, companies are permitted to show such deadliness less than 99.99% of the time, according to the EPA's rules. The standard test is run on 60 slides inoculated with a specific bug, and 59 of them treated with the product must exhibit the claimed rate of germ death. The 60th can fail to allow for a mistake on the part of testers, according to Jean Schoeni, director of research at TRAC Microbiology, which conducts EPA testing. "It's a very fussy, particular test," Dr. Schoeni says. Furthermore, if fewer than 59 slides show the high kill rate, manufacturers get a do-over.

If trained lab testers sometimes need a redo, aren't consumers wielding a spray bottle likely to fall short of optimal sanitizing technique? "It's highly likely," Dr. Schoeni says. She notes that some products need to sit on surfaces for 10 minutes to attain desired kill rates, yet many home cleaners are likely to wipe them off long before that.

Advertisers, in turn, say that U.S. regulation is, in some ways, too restrictive of the claims they can make. For instance, Paul Ford, chief executive of Agion, which supplies companies with silver technology to kill bugs, says the company's products are too slow-acting to achieve the kill rates the EPA requires in a designated amount of time to make advertising claims. "These technologies require from an hour up to 24 hours to work."

And some makers of germ killers wish they could say their products kill the swine-flu virus — a claim that some can reasonably make. The FDA bars companies from making claims for over-the-counter products about killing viruses, and has recently issued five warning letters to companies "for false/misleading H1N1 claims," according to an FDA spokesman. H1N1 is, manufacturers say, rather fragile and easy to kill. But because of the FDA rule, many don't test the efficacy of their products on the virus, says Doug Anderson, president of ATS Labs, which studies germ-killing products.

Dr. Larry Weiss, chief scientist and founder of hand-sanitizer maker CleanWell, markets his products with a 99.99% germ-mortality rate, in part because his competitors do.

But he worries that the limiting factor in hand hygiene isn't the numerical claim, but instead noncompliance. "The public has become distracted by a series of numbers when there are more important considerations when it comes to hygiene behavior," he says.