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

Carbon black supplier Orion begins trading on NYSE

July 29, 2014 11:29 am ET

Orion Engineered Carbons S.a.r.l. has priced the initial public offering of 19.5 million common shares at a price to the public of $18 per share.    More

Image

Dow sees solid second quarter performance

July 29, 2014 11:19 am ET

Dow Chemical Co. has reported its second quarter figures, with its seventh consecutive quarter of growth, according to the company.More

Image

Evonik sells polyimide foams operation to Boyd

July 29, 2014 10:46 am ET

Modesto, Calif.-based Boyd Corp., a manufacturers of specialty material and sealing agents, has purchased Evonik Industries’...    More

Image

Formosa to be compensated for Vietnam riot

July 28, 2014 1:44 pm ET

Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group will receive $2.39 million from the Vietnamese government and insurance companies for damages suffered during the...    More

Image

Two medical device makers add specialty products through acquisitions

July 28, 2014 3:02 pm ET

The medical merger mania continues this summer as two more medical device manufacturers are swallowed up by bigger competitors.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

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

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

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

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

More Events