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How effective are your sanitary waste treatments?

07 March 2013

Following global biotechnology company Genesis Biosciences' comparative sanitary waste review, Dr Emma Whitworth, the company's technical manager, weighs up the options for sanitary waste treatment

Following global biotechnology company Genesis Biosciences' comparative sanitary waste review, Dr Emma Whitworth, the company's technical manager, weighs up the options for sanitary waste treatment

The humid, nutrient rich conditions within a feminine hygiene unit are ideal to propagate the growth of microorganisms to levels that could pose a threat to human health, so it is vital that sanitary waste is treated effectively.

A detailed bacteriological survey of sanitary dressings by C. M.

Lucas and M. F. Mendes (1980) demonstrated the dressings are grossly contaminated with a range of different pathogenic bacteria.

Risks to service perception Warm moist conditions are ideal bacteria breeding grounds, leading to unpleasant odours. Coupled with the fact that foreign and organic matter is also disposed of in the bin, the whole surface area needs to be sanitised to control odours effectively.

Review of technologies and treatments Given the potential risks to human health, it is vital to understand the various technologies available that can sanitise the whole bin without compromising on cost, labour, human health, harm to the environment and your company reputation.

The first ever sanitary waste review has been conducted by our biotechnology experts, analysing options available, to help organisations make an informed decision.

Our research indicates some sanitary waste treatment options may not reduce the risks to service operators and washroom customers of contracting viral and bacterial infections, whilst being ineffective in controlling unpleasant odours.

Treatment options Historically, large volumes of liquid disinfectant were used, but this led to an increased weight of material requiring disposal and there are concerns regarding the long-term effectiveness of liquids once they are absorbed into the sanitary waste bin.

Another option is to use gas-generating systems which produce, for example, sulphur dioxide, which then penetrates and disinfects waste. However, there is some doubt about the control of the release of the gas, as well as health and safety concerns, which has led to this technology being banned in a number of countries.

Some new products incorporate anti-microbial technologies, but many of these rely on different modes of 'contact disinfection' in order to work effectively. We believe as waste accumulates in the bin, only surfaces which are able to come into direct contact with the anti-microbial agent for a sufficient length of time will be neutralised, rather than the whole surface area.

Efficacy In our opinion, standard methods for assessing a product's antimicrobial efficacy, such as EN 1276, may need review, as they rely on hard surface contact disinfection testing. They do not accurately assess the bactericidal efficacy on porous surfaces or surfaces/waste which are not in direct contact with the active agent. Furthermore they only assess efficacy over a limited timeframe and not the full service cycle, which can be up to eight weeks.

Other factors which need to be considered are devices or product designs that inhibit direct contact with the anti-microbial technology such as sharp bends or small surface area to volume ratio which will decrease the efficacy of disinfection. Failure to adequately clean surfaces will also decrease efficacy.

Accurate dosing Heavy liquids and bottle shakers are inherently inaccurate in measuring optimal dosing levels, potentially leading to insufficient levels or over-usage, incurring waste and unnecessary cost.

Sheets, cards, powders and sachets are recommended for highly accurate dosing and provide the most efficient and cost effective service option as they are light-weight, easily portable and quick to drop into the bin.

Innovative new options Research indicates that a vapour phase system provides one of the most effective means of protection against infections and control of unpleasant odours.

Genesis Biosciences has developed the Biosan Series, including e card and P-Max sanitary bin sanitisers, both with advanced vapour technology.

These are natural anti-microbial products which eradicate bacteria within sanitary units. Based on patented technology, they release a pleasant aroma in the surrounding washroom. In addition, e card is derived from sustainable materials and will biodegrade when disposed of. The product recently won an innovation award in the chemical products category at Pulire, an international exhibition for professional cleaning technologies.