Antimicrobial-Coated Fabric Combats Harmful Bacteria
Hospital-related infections are on the rise and pose a significant threat to patients due to mutations that have left bacteria immune to many common antibiotics. In light of mounting concern in the medical industry, CMI Enterprises (Miami, FL) has developed a line of coated fabrics for upholstery and bedding that features an antimicrobial that may help curb instances of infection in healthcare settings.
The company initially used its technology as a biocide for mold and mildew in boats. But after further testing, the firm realized that within 30 minutes, the Dimensions Nanocide antimicrobial-coated fabric could effectively kill 99.9% of Staphylococcus and Enterococcus, two of the most common strains of bacteria associated with hospital-related infections.
The key is silver oxide, an antimicrobial. Exhibiting a polar charge, the silver creates an ion field on the surface of the fabric. The bacteria exchange ions with the silver oxide upon contact with the fabric, in turn ripping open their cell walls and killing them, according to Mike Jobe, vice president of sales and marketing for CMI.
"Because the silver oxide particles are so small, it's much easier to get a greater amount of them on the surface," Jobe explains. "So, when a germ does actually fall on the surface of a chair that is upholstered in a product that has Nanocide, we can be sure that it is effective."
Traditional biocides used in coated fabrics tend to be arsenic or cyanide based. As opposed to CMI's cell-killing method, these biocides render bacteria sterile upon their ingestion. Moreover, arsenic coatings are fugitive and easily washed off or depleted over time, according to Jobe. Conversely, the company maintains that its Nanocide-infused fabrics retain their efficacy despite repeated cleaning and time.
The Dimensions line of fabric is also environmentally friendly, whereas arsenic-based products have elicited some unease regarding their safety, Jobe says. He adds that while there is no evidence that the small amounts of arsenic that may be transferred to humans upon contact with the biocides are harmful, they do raise a red flag in many professionals' eyes.
"We tried to have something that was permanent, something that was a better deterrent to bacteria and germs, and something that, from an environmental standpoint, did not go into the waste stream and was not absorbed by patrons of the office," Jobe says.
Applications for the fabric include mattress covers for hospital beds, as well as seats and chairs in hospitals or doctors' offices. Furthermore, the silver nanoparticles are invisible to the naked eye, which enables the company to coat a range of colored fabric without unsightly tinting.Although the product primarily protects against common Staphylococcus bacteria, the company is currently testing for other viruses and ailments such as the flu and the common cold.
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