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Feature

Decontamination

Decontamination: Ozone scores on spores
01 April 2007

Tests indicate that an ozone disinfection method of laundering microfibre mops and cloths could be an effective means to fight hospital superbugs.

Current NHS guidelines recommend that infected and foul laundry should be washed at a temperature of 71OC for a minimum of three minutes.

But doubts over the effectiveness of conventional thermal disinfection wash-cycles to kill the superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff) have led commercial laundry equipment distributor JLA to develop an ozone disinfection system called Otex.

According to the company, ten NHS trusts have opted to use the system following a six-month trial at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City. The trial, which compared conventional laundry processes with the Otex system, was overseen by hospital infection-control experts and independent microbiologists Microsearch Laboratories.

In one test, a mop that had been used on a hospital ward and subsequently thermally disinfected, was found to still be harbouring 150,000 colonies of the C. diff spores.

In another test, scientists held water containing C. diff at a temperature of 80O for 15 minutes. Despite the fact that this was far hotter and longer than official recommendations, the reduction in spores was found to be ‘insignificant’. But when similar tests were carried out on water that had undergone the Otex process, there was ‘no viable trace’ of spores after only two-and-a-half minutes.

The system works by injecting ozone, a natural disinfectant, into the wash process. It features an oxygen concentrator, an ozone generator and an interfusor device.

The concentrator converts air to 90% oxygen and the generator separates out oxygen atoms to create ozone. The interfusor then makes the ozone soluble by defusing it into water, in the drum of a washing machine.

It’s claimed the system uses mostly cold water and kills bugs on all wash cycles, eliminating the risk of error by inexperienced or forgetful laundry staff. By washing at low temperatures, the system has the added benefits of cutting energy costs..C. Diff spores after only two-and-a-half minutes.

OTEX works by injecting ozone, a natural disinfectant, into the wash process. It features an oxygen concentrator, an ozone generator and an interfusor device. The concentrator converts air to 90% oxygen and the generator then separates out oxygen atoms to create ozone. The interfusor then makes the ozone soluble by defusing it into water, in the drum of a washing machine.

The system is claimed to use mostly cold water and kills bugs on all wash cycles, eliminating the risk of error by inexperienced or forgetful laundry staff. By washing at low temperatures, the system has the added benefits of dramatically cutting energy costs. The distributor has also calculated that the number of systems currently in use will this year save a total of £2 million and almost 4,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide.



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