Antimicrobial plastics play role in disease prevention

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: September 13, 2013 4:45 pm ET
Updated: September 13, 2013 6:24 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Medical, Materials Suppliers

GURNEE, ILL. — As the health-care industry grapples with the best ways to stop the spread of infectious diseases within hospitals, the plastics industry may be an important ally in the fight.

One potential weapon: antimicrobial plastics.

Plastic surfaces, those touched by patients and doctors regularly, could have built in resistance to bacteria and other disease.

"Not a whole lot of inherently antimicrobial plastics have been adopted so far [for touch surfaces]," said Manish Nandi, senior product developer for Sabic Innovative Plastics.

Nandi spoke about hospital acquired infectious diseases, and how plastics can play in a role in the prevention and spread of diseases at the Society of Plastic Engineers Medical Plastics MiniTec, held Sept. 9 in Gurnee.

The antimicrobial plastics won't be the cure-all, he said.

"The primary control is still going to be cleaning," Nandi said. "What the inherently antimicrobial plastics are going to give you is some sort of insurance policy. If you miss a spot, then you have a material that is self, sort of, killing the bacteria."

While each hospital has a cleaning protocol, the system is a human effort and not uniform.

"It's not the same from hospital to hospital," he said. "So there is something that may be missing from a cleaning protocol."

Those potential missed spots are where the antimicrobial plastics could play a part. It could also play a part while the patient is still in the room.

"The room only gets cleaned when the patient leaves, they don't spray down the room on top of a patient," Nandi said. "So having an insurance policy in place while the patient is there won't be bad."

There are different types of inherently antimicrobial plastics including those that would repeal the bacteria or those that would kill the bacteria, he said.

In addition to inherently antimicrobial plastics, Nandi said developing plastics that hold up color and structure to chemical cleaners also is a difficult task.

"The cleaners, they are good inventors," he said. "And so to kill these really resistant bugs, they are coming up with harsher and harsher chemicals. And that is putting pressure on folks like us who are making the materials and surfaces because these materials are not friendly to the harsher chemicals."

So Sabic has started a study to look at different polymers with different cleaners to see how they react. And what might be the best solution for surfaces that come into constant contact with patients.

"It's an ongoing study, so we don't have any results right now, but we hope to have something by the end of the year," he said.

Other items can be sterilized in a number of ways: gamma rays; ethylene oxide; autoclaving; or low-temperature hydrogen peroxide gas. All have advantages and disadvantages, and various plastics hold up in different ways to each — polycarbonates will discolor with gamma rays, for instance — he said.

Nandi said a polyetherimide resin has proven to hold up to all different types of sterilization.

"The claim to fame for this material is it is resistant to all four sterilization types, which is a very big advantage for the device designer," he said. "You have a universal choice."


Comments

Antimicrobial plastics play role in disease prevention

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: September 13, 2013 4:45 pm ET
Updated: September 13, 2013 6:24 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

DuPont investing $100 million for more ethylene copolymer capacity

September 16, 2014 1:51 pm ET

Increased packaging demand is leading materials giant DuPont Co. to spend more than $100 million to increase capacity for ethylene copolymers at its...    More

Image

Latvian plastics recycler Nordic Plast boosts capacity

September 16, 2014 10:15 am ET

Latvian plastics waste recycler Nordic Plast Ltd. has invested more than 2.5 million euros ($3.2 million) to expand capacity and modernize production ...    More

Image

Sabic, Chinese Academy of Sciences sign five-year development agreement

September 15, 2014 11:54 am ET

Ties between one of the world's biggest oil producers and one of its biggest consumers grew tighter Sept. 12 with the announcement of a five-year...    More

Image

BASF analyzes products based on sustainability potential

September 15, 2014 11:48 am ET

Chemicals giant BASF SE has created a new process for managing its product portfolio based on sustainability criteria.    More

Image

China's Zhongtai Chemical calls off large-scale PVC project

September 12, 2014 2:16 pm ET

Accepting the gloomy reality of the PVC market, Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Co. Ltd. has officially canceled a 800,000-ton PVC resin project and instea...    More

Market Reports

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events