Plastic peril – the cost of convenience?

Our oceans are contaminated with plastic.. So why do we use so much of it in healthcare?

Greenpeace volunteers collect plastic rubbish from Manila Bay, Philippines. 2006

Plastics must now be the most common materials in our hospitals – especially touch surfaces in clinical settings.  Why, when microbiologists tell us just how readily microbes attach to plastic surfaces?

Furthermore, we have known for years that most plastic materials are sensitive to damage from disinfection products, rendering them even better-suited to microbial attachment and biofilm formation.

In contrast, some simple everyday metals, fully recyclable (and with a high recycled content when new) are not only durable and attractive, but proven to be very effective against microbes – bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungi… even under typical indoor (dry) usage conditions.

So, these metals can work continuously – between touches and between cleans – to destroy pathogens rapidly and thereby reduce the infection risk to patients and staff.

The strategic use of copper and copper-alloys, as a simple adjunct to cleaning and hand hygiene, is now recognised in design guidelines and healthcare quality assessment schemes around the world as a simple and cost-effective measure to improve patient safety and healthcare provider finances.

Materials matter – for healthcare and for our planet.