One of the big picture trends that I am sure you will all recognize is that infection prevention and control is moving mainstream. It isn’t isolated to healthcare any longer, but has become a part of our daily lives like it has never been in our past. This trend directly drives another important trend: the consumption of disinfectants is increasing dramatically. This should come as no surprise. It’s an almost mathematical equation. If our awareness for infection and prevention and control increases, so too will the usage of the tools to prevent infections. Disinfectants are a key tool in the fight against microbes. Unfortunately, a critical implication of this increased disinfectant usage is the potential negative impact it could have on our environment. So this begs the question, how can we lessen or eliminate this negative impact on the environment without compromising our infection prevention and control practices?
Ideally, we will select a disinfectant product that carries both suitable germicidal performance for our particular application AND an environmental profile that is preferable and sustainable. Historically speaking this has been quite difficult to achieve because chemical formulators often have to play a balancing act when developing disinfectants. On one side – speed and spectrum of disinfection; on the other – safety and environmental profile. If the goal was to develop a product that carried broad spectrum performance in a rapid contact time, the safety and environmental profile was nearly always sacrificed as a result. The opposite was also true. If a safe, environmentally preferable product was favoured, the scales would shift and disinfectant performance was often compromised and thus poor as a result. Fortunately, new, novel disinfectant chemistries are coming to market that address this flaw in many legacy disinfectants. These unique disinfectants can strike the needed balance between germicidal performance and safety (personal and environmental) profiles without compromising on either.
Before I go, I am compelled to provide a couple of last suggestions. First and foremost, don’t simply rely upon fancy marketing materials or pretty green labels advertising the product as GREEN. Wherever possible, search for industry recognized Eco-Labels such as EcoLogo to ensure that the claims being made pertaining to the environmental profile of the product have been reviewed and validated against standardized criteria. This will ensure that you’re not being “Greenwashed” as they call it. Lastly, double check the disinfectant claims on your “Green” disinfectant to ensure you’re not giving up too much in the way of disinfectant performance to secure an environmentally preferable disinfectant.
How important is an environmentally preferable disinfectant to you or your organization? Are you willing to compromise on disinfectant performance (slower contact time, narrower spectrum of kill) to achieve this environmental responsibility?
Hasta la vista!
Lee – The Germinator