Antimicrobial response

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As we begin the long process of returning to work post-COVID19, Altro continues to provide products that are the gold standard for safe, hygienic interior finishes. Moving forward in design it is evident that cleanability and hygiene will be of the utmost importance, and interior finishes will play an important role.

Designers will need to carefully scrutinize and compare materials now more than ever before. In developing their comparisons, the topic of antimicrobial additives will no doubt come up. Products containing antimicrobial additives are aimed primarily at other microorganisms and are largely unproven against viruses. While they seem beneficial, these products are also highly toxic.

Seven years ago, for health and performance reasons, Altro removed these types of ingredients from all of our floor and wall products. This decision was based on science and the health trends we were seeing around the world. In the midst of this pandemic, many designers may wish to return to using these ingredients because it is perceived that products with these additives are more “safe.” 

Altro remains firm on our approach to not include these ingredients in our floors and walls products. We strongly believe that the long-term overuse of these chemicals contributes to long-lasting health and environmental problems. Altro maintains that the hygienic design of our materials, the ingredients from which they are made, and the system they provide is sufficient in combating this virus and other microorganisms when combined with proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Click below to view and download Separating fact from fiction: biocides 

Antimicrobial does not mean antiviral

Where most antiseptics and disinfectants kill bacteria cells on contact, antimicrobials focus on depleting resources for bacterial reproduction on a cellular level. This effectively halts accumulation by making the environment uninhabitable for common pathogens, reducing the overall risk of contracting an infection.

Compounds specifically made to inhibit the growth and spread of viruses are classified as antiviral.  It is important to note that while the broader antimicrobial term includes viruses in its list of susceptible pathogens, products claiming to have antimicrobial properties are not always antiviral. Leading manufacturers of antimicrobial technologies have mentioned that even though antimicrobials are capable of damaging harmful microorganisms in their pure state, evidence has yet to be presented that they produce similar results when incorporated into products and surfaces. With this factor in mind, these technologies are not a reliable means of combatting the spread of viruses on their own, particularly a threat as severe as COVID-19. 

 

Antimicrobial additives can do more harm than good

While antimicrobial additives and biocides target the resources pathogens use to reproduce rather than the pathogens themselves, the possibility of an antimicrobial resistance remains a potential threat. Prolonged exposure to a particular additive or ingredient can prompt mutations in viruses and bacteria, reducing antimicrobial effectiveness.  

Studies have proven that repeated exposure to these ingredients are capable of producing more dangerous, resistant bacteria. The FDA has acknowledged this by banning many antibacterial ingredients in products like hand soap.  

Scientists at Kishony Lab at Harvard Medical School demonstrate this very vividly in a video where they show how in just 11 days, bacteria evolves to become resistant to even the strongest antibiotics.  


 

In 2013, Altro along with many other manufacturers removed biocides from their floors and walls for this very reason.  For further information on this decision we invite you to review our Whitepaper: Biocides No Silver Bullet.  

Request proof from manufacturers claiming their additives are effective against COVID-19

There are currently no antimicrobial technologies in floors and walls that are proven to kill COVID-19. In the event that a manufacturer claims that their products include additives that can disable viruses, specifically COVID-19, be sure to request verification via certified testing results. These claims are often intentionally misleading and deceiving.  

The best defense remains washing hands and disinfecting surfaces

Given the state of COVID-19, the best defense against contracting and spreading the virus is maintaining good hygiene with regular hand washing, as well as routinely disinfecting surfaces.  

Surfaces subject to frequent interactions, such as countertops and seating areas, must be cleaned after each use with appropriate disinfectant wipes or cleaners.  

Daily cleaning of all other surfaces with appropriate disinfectant is sufficient, “deep cleaning” not necessary, routine and daily cleaning is sufficient for the virus.  

The EPA has provided a public listing of approved disinfectants available on their website. Most, if not all of these are perfectly suitable to use with Altro floors and walls. Ensure manufacturer’s instructions are followed and regular cleaning protocols are maintained.  

Naturally hygienic – no additives required

In an attempt to deter bacterial and viral pathogens, certain manufacturers of floors and walls incorporate antimicrobial additives into their composition. While these additives are intended to make surfaces uninhabitable for microorganisms by removing resources for cellular reproduction, their long-term overuse can prompt the development of antimicrobial resistances and viral mutations.  

Antimicrobial technology should be used sparingly. Best practice has been to limit the use of these additives to high risk surfaces like countertops, furniture, door knobs and other touch points. It’s unnecessary to include these ingredients in low risk surfaces like flooring and their overuse can lead to an increase in the spread of resistant pathogens as well as the overall risk of infection. 

Altro flooring and wall cladding is made from PVC aka Vinyl which is naturally hygienic. Vinyl is used as a standard for the most critical hygienic applications, both in flooring and in medical devices. In fact, 25 percent of all medical products containing plastic are made with vinyl.   

Used in floors and walls, vinyl is highly durable, non-porous, non-shedding and has very high impact resistance, preventing cracks and chipping that can trap bacteria compared to traditional surfaces. The material itself is inert and does not encourage the growth of bacteria the way some natural materials would.  

We have commissioned multiple tests of our products to prove that they do not promote bacterial growth and accumulation in addition to resisting mold and fungal pathogens. These tests are available upon request.  

Click to request our test results.

An integrated floor + wall solution

Altro has spent over 35 years developing and perfecting an integrated system that promotes hygiene from floor to ceiling. Our wall cladding and flooring ranges are designed to work together to form a complete, watertight seal that offers complete protection against bacteria and other harmful pathogens that can compromise the health of patients, patrons and staff.

Altro Whiterock is a fully bonded system with hygienic sealed edges, abutments and joints. It can be configured around common fixtures and fittings including pipes, ventilation outlets, light switches and plug sockets. Meanwhile, Altro sheet flooring utilizes a heat-welded seam to prevent moisture and contaminants from accumulating below the surface. These two components have been constructed to maintain their integrity, meet the strictest hygiene standards and to provide a perfect fit without any gaps or rough edges around joints and details, ensuring a hygienic seal.

Enhanced cleanability

When used together, Altro flooring and wall cladding provides a robust, hard-wearing surface that resists stains, odors and chemicals. We have tested our products against many commonly used chemicals including sodium hypochlorite, phenolic disinfectants and germicidal cleaners, proving that they are more than capable of withstanding powerful cleaning agents and disinfectants. 

The absence of gaps and grout also allows Altro floor and wall products to be cleaned thoroughly without the threat of moisture accumulation below the surface, preventing potential substrate damage.