And can it help protect your workforce against COVID-19?
Antimicrobial workplace products like antimicrobial card holders, antimicrobial lanyards, antimicrobial paper and even antimicrobial uniforms didn’t enter the marketplace as a result of COVID-19. Many products have been around for years and are particularly employed in the health industries.
However in the current pandemic, they’ve had a new surge of popularity, with unprecedented demand for new products being experienced by manufacturers.
What exactly does antimicrobial mean?
An antimicrobial is basically anything that is active against microbes. The most common types of microbes are bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Anything with antimicrobial properties aims to stop the microbe from growing and producing energy.
So for example, antibiotics and disinfectants can be described as antimicrobial.
Is antimicrobial the same as antibacterial?
No. An antibacterial specifically prevents the growth of bacteria, whereas an anti-microbial is effective against the growth of bacteria, specific viruses and moulds.
Products that have been treated with an antimicrobial additive remain antimicrobial for the lifetime of the product.
Its properties aren’t degraded through wear and tear as it’s an integral part of the material whereas antibacterial products like wipes, disinfectants and alcohol-based gels tend to wear off within a matter of hours.
Are antimicrobials effective against COVID-19?
Biomaster, the silver biocide additive used in many antimicrobial badge holders is primarily effective against bacteria but is also effective against the growth of enveloped viruses on porous surfaces such as textiles and paper.
COVID-19 is one such ‘enveloped’ virus which relies on a protective lipid coating. They are also the easiest types of virus to deactivate.
Whilst there is no evidence yet that Biomaster is effective against COVID-19 as it is impossible to test for the virus in commercial labs, Addmaster, the company behind Biomaster, has been testing the additive against Feline Coronavirus, as the strain is viewed to be similar to COVID-19.
Paul Morris, the CEO of Addmaster, reports that “to date our antiviral results have been very encouraging. Porous surfaces such as textiles and paper are showing a reduction of >95% in 2 hours.”*
On the subject of paper, probably the most commonly touched product that’s passed from hand to hand, one particular company is leading the charge.
James Cropper has brought out PaperGard – a range of anti-microbial papers incorporating Biomaster’s silver technology. Before COVID, this was commonly used in gift boxes and greeting cards, but we imagine their order book is filling up for new products.
Do antimicrobial products have a place in the new normal?
Even in a non-COVID world, antimicrobial products play a significant part in reducing cross contamination and killing harmful bacteria, which is why they’re used regularly in healthcare and medical settings.
Lanyards and card holders are touched multiple times a day and brush against surfaces regularly. So it makes sense to arm your staff with an extra layer of protection with antimicrobial lanyards and antimicrobial card holders to hold their ID card or access card.
Part of a wider, combined approach
Antimicrobial products are not the single answer to the COVID-19 challenge – nothing is. However they could be a valuable part of your toolkit to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, and should complement your hygiene practices.
Antimicrobial lanyards, antimicrobial card holders and even antimicrobial pens could soon become commonplace in businesses and buildings everywhere, along with hand sanitiser, face masks and Perspex screens.
It goes without saying that the more antimicrobial products you use in the workplace, the lower the risk, but they do not replace the need for regular cleaning, minimising contact points and the following of government social distancing guidelines.
Making use of all of the technology and products available out there to manage the risk will allow businesses and employees to return to work with confidence.
*Taken from Addmaster's blog post https://www.addmaster.co.uk/blog/what-really-is-the-new-normal