DIV18/10: Accelerated Alternative for Healthcare Disinfection (6 June 2018)

Issue Date: 6 June 2018
Ref: DIV18/10

Accelerated Alternative for Healthcare Disinfection
Tinaz Ranina, Marketing Lead, Infection Prevention, Diversey, UK & Ireland

Around 80 per cent of all infectious diseases are spread by personal contact or touching a contaminated surface. In healthcare these can range from hospital acquired infections such as MRSA and C. diff to infections common in any setting, such as Influenza and Norovirus.

With bacteria, for example, more than 3000 different types can live on the average person’s hands and about 100,000 can live on each square centimetre of skin. Many of these are completely harmless but just a few of the wrong type can quickly lead to illness. One bacterium can multiply to over four million in eight hours, so it is clear that keeping hands and surfaces clean is critical to preventing the chain of infection.

Healthcare providers understand this which is why hand hygiene is so important. But so is the removal of potential sources of infection from surfaces, especially those that are likely to be touched frequently. In healthcare this includes beds, furniture, light switches and hand-held devices.

Cleaning professionals have traditionally chosen disinfectants with chlorine as the active ingredient (usually as bleaches) for hard surfaces. While widely used, they have some drawbacks that can limit their usefulness. Alternative formulations with Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) as the active ingredient – such as Diversey’s Oxivir range - offer numerous advantages with fewer limitations.

The key requirement from any disinfectant in healthcare settings is efficacy - to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful pathogens and infections. Problem pathogens, such as Norovirus and rhinovirus, might not be killed by conventional disinfectants. Contact times must be realistically short so that pathogens are killed before the surface dries. Disinfectants with long contact times may require reapplication to ensure pathogens are killed.

Disinfectants containing AHP are highly effective against a wide range of viruses, spores, yeasts, and fungi found in healthcare, including C. diff, MRSA, Norovirus, E. coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This broad-spectrum efficacy has been tested to the latest EN standards. This simplifies cleaning processes because just one product is needed. Using numerous alternative products to achieve the same level of performance adds complexity.

Products with AHP have been tested and shown to kill viruses such as Norovirus in up to 30 seconds and the most persistent spores such as C. diff in one minute. Traditional products are generally not very effective on spores and require significantly longer contact times. Chlorine-based products can take up to 30 minutes. Aside from any productivity issues, chlorine-based products are only effective while wet which means efficacy will be lost if they dry within the specified contact time. Many AHP products disinfect as they dry which, with their shorter contact time, removes this limitation.

Products containing AHP offer additional benefits that simplify day-to-day cleaning operations. With more cleaning taking place while patients are present, processes must be safe and efficient, so as not to create an unpleasant environment or put patients at risk. 

AHP degrades to oxygen and water alone shortly after use which helps make formulations containing it safer to use. Chlorine-based products are suspected of aggravating asthma and other respiratory problems, and forming chlorine compounds in the atmosphere. This is one of the reasons why these disinfectants are being replaced by alternative products. 

Many AHP-based formulations have no safety classification whereas chlorine-based products usually carry a hazard symbol.