Antimicrobials: what are they and what are they used for? - NOB166

What is an antimicrobial product?

Microbes are one of the smallest forms of life, they are not visible to the naked eye since they can only be seen through a microscope. Thanks to the antimicrobial action, their growth can be stopped or their appearance prevented since they are found in almost every habitat type. They have different shapes and they are different sizes.

We can identify the following 4 groups:

  • Virus
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Parasites
They are classified into two groups: they can be beneficial or pathogenic (hazardous). On the one hand, the beneficial can be those that are used for the production of products for human consumption such as yogurt or cheese, or those that are part of the microbiota (intestinal flora).

On the other hand, those that are harmful cause infections and diseases . These are bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and prions. What are their modes of transmission? They are transmitted by indirect and direct contact, through air and blood. Your home, your workplace, the public places that you visit… Basically, your environment in general is exposed. Is it possible to protect yourself from them? Yes, it is. It is important to make clear that cleaning does not guarantee decontamination or disinfection against them.

Following hygiene measures is the first step but you should not ignore the use of antimicrobials to ensure that you are in a safe place. Biocides have this property, since they fight harmful organisms thanks to the use of one or the mixture of several active substances. They are usually used in the healthcare industry and many others such as the domestic industry. What are their functions? Their main purpose is to neutralize, control and/or reduce bacterial pathogenic load.

They are classified into 22 product-types according to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), the organization that encourages innovation while ensuring safe and proper use of chemical substances. These 22 types are classified into the following four groups:

  • GROUP 1: Disinfectants and general biocides
  • GROUP 2: Preservatives
  • GROUP 3: Pest control
  • GROUP 4: Other biocidal products

How can we recognize them? These have the initials PT followed by the nomenclature according to the type of material that it treats. Our products are notified as PT9 as they are used for the fibrous or polymerised materials preservation, e.g. leather, rubber or paper or textile products by the control of microbiological deterioration..

In addition, they prevent the deposit of microorganisms on textile surface, they neutralize bad odors and they have many other benefits that we will discuss in more detail on this article. These powerful antimicrobials must be regulated before they can be commercialized .

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates chemicals with these characteristics, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates chemical products that are in contact with food. Furthermore, biocides that are on the market must have authorization and be registered in the Official Register of Biocidal Products.

With the use of nanotechnology we have formulated products that inhibit microbial growth. Our product range dedicated to fabric protection has this purpose. There are different formats available. On the one hand, H-ion, an industrial additive focused on the detergency sector. On the other hand, Protect clothes, direct application spray (it protects all kinds of fabric). We not only find microorganisms in our environment, textile surfaces carry microorganisms, therefore they can be on your shirt, mattress or sofa. The World Health Organization (WHO) affirms that 6 of the 10 biggest global public health threats are related to infectious diseases as we are exposed to millions of germs daily. For this reason, we must choose solutions that guarantee our safety.

Why should we use antimicrobial products?

They are one of the most significant advances in the pharmaceutical research with aiming health improvement. Thanks to this type of products and other measures such as vaccines, the infectious diseases number (caused by microorganisms) has declined. Everything that surrounds us is a potential source of infection. All kind of industries need protection

If we go by bus (or any other form of transport), we sit where others have sat before. In the hospitality industry the same cloth napkins with which we clean ourselves can contain microbes. Actually, in each of them we find hundreds of situations, such as the ones mentioned above.

But the one that needs more prevention methods is the health sector . Doctors and nurses take care of us. Therefore, they must be healthy to carry out their mission. With the appearance of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the health system has had to face a completely new situation.

In these cases, microbial proliferation produces a chain reaction in both patients and those that are around them (kitchen staff, hospital cleaners…)

An antimicrobial treatment ensures safety. In this kind of situation we must pay attention to the hospitalized patient but we must not forget about all the items that surround him (sheets, dressing gown, mattress…). They must be disinfected. As the saying goes: "prevention is better than cure".

If we use biocidal products that inactivate the virus we will feel safer. And of course, in case of the Covid-19, we should also follow the control and hygienic measures such as washing our hands frequently and meticulously, keeping a safety distance and using a mask. To sum up, due to this situation we have had to follow preventive measures that have led to a new organization applied to each kind of industry. What is the main goal? Without a doubt: to gain a positive effect on health and control the spread of diseases.

These preventive measures are of course necessary, but what about fabrics? Shouldn't you worry about what lives in your bed, or even in your shirt?

3 Advantages of antimicrobial protection for fabrics

In the previous section we explained it in general terms, but now we will focus on textile surfaces and the main benefits of this type of product, making reference to our products. These inhibit protein synthesis and stop the creation of DNA, which inactivates viruses such as Covid-19. In addition to avoiding the proliferation of microorganisms that can sometimes cause bad odor and diseases. The following points summarize some of their characteristics:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Our products are effective, as we have completed validation methods. Its purpose is to protect from bacteria damage, washing at high temperatures and chemicals. They work against all types of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi and moulds. Its action is long-lasting and the use of high temperature is not necessary . They release progressively the active ingredient for at least 7 days, creating a long-lasting barrier against microbes. In addition, we have the following assay methods tested: UNE-EN 14476, UNE-EN 1276 (European standards) and JIS L 1902.

  3. Savings
  4. Our antimicrobial solutions lead to economic savings since you do not have to use disinfectants daily. At Nob166 we not only care about the environment, we want to optimize natural resources in order to save energy for minimum environment impact.. On the one hand, H-ion offers an energetic saving of 85% since the fabrics can be washed with cold water. Washing clothes too often affect their deterioration. On the other hand, our fabric protector spray (Protect clothes) will make you maximise resources as well, as 1 l can be used for 33 kilos of fabric.

  5. High versatility
  6. Our textile disinfectant range is is suitable for all sorts of fabrics and it combats bad odors , which are caused due to humidity and the microbial growth. Like explained in the previous point, every industry requires them in one way or another. We do not use products that affect water and we comply with environmental regulations.

    Another advantage of the use of antimicrobials is the following: they prevent mites , these cause allergies to at least 10% of the population. Some of the allergy symptoms are itching, red eyes, respiratory problems, etc.

Of course, if we keep our environment constantly clean this will have positive effects on our health. This does not mean that it is better to overuse disinfectants, instead we must choose other products that are effective and long-lasting. Thanks to nanotechnology we not only protect the items that surround us, we also protect the fabrics that we use and wear daily.

Does silver disinfect?

Silver is a chemical element represented with the symbol Ag. This word comes from the Latin argentum which means "white" or "bright". This chemical element has good conductivity, chemical stability and catalytic activity. It is very interesting if it is combined with nanotechnology ; the technology that designs and manipulates matter on the molecular or atomic scale.

Ag nanoparticles have greater bactericidal power than ionic silver, therefore less quantity is required, since their action is very effective. What is a nanoparticle? As its name suggests, it is a microscopic particle with a size range of 1 to 100 nanometers (these correspond to one-millionth of a millimeter).

Silver has been used since ancient times to destroy microorganisms. It has bactericidal properties. This is the reason why we have taken advantage of the natural resources that we have to create a protective biocide that is made up of a surfactant and silver ions embedded in a natural inorganic matrix.

What is the role of surfactant?
Surfactants are essential to the action of cleaning products. They make molecules more slippery and allow them to interact with oil and grease.

Our antimicrobial products provide a biocidal effect, they prevent microbial proliferation. The surfactant binds to the lipid layer (fat) that surrounds the microorganism dissolving it. Therefore it destroys its structure. The range of textile protection is not indicated for human consumption, nor does it claim its use in pharmacy, parapharmacy or cosmetics. In addition, it does not contain metallic silver in any form , it is a natural adsorbent.

The genetic material of the microorganism is exposed and denatured due to the multidian effect of silver ions that combine three factors: it prevents the transport of the electron chain, which prevents the repair of the protective membrane, it inhibits protein synthesis and, therefore, it prevents the formation of new genetic material. But, what about if we wash, for example, the sheets in a hospital or if we clean the seat of our car. Will they be protected? They will be clean, not protected.

Cleaning is the first step to fight against microbes. You are able to get rid oforganic or inorganic dirt such as food remains, oils, among others. However, when you have direct contact with them either by air, touching a surface, etc, you will be contaminated. Why does this happens if it is apparently clean? If you do not use an antimicrobial product that is certified or authorized by a health care entity, you will not create a protective barrier against the microbial proliferation. So it does not matter how much you clean, if you do not use them, you will not be able to prevent the appearance of harmful pathogens.

The biocidal products manage to cross the lipid barrier, it is then when the silver ions attack the genetic material of the microorganism, inactivating it completely. Then you will be safe as it they are effective against bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.