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ISKU Blog Improving antimicrobial efficacy on furniture

Antimicrobial efficacy on furniture contact surfaces

September 28, 2020. Written by Joonas Vikström @ Joonas Vikström

Things become easily difficult when they cannot be seen. This applies to both positive and negative matters as a friction to digest the facts happening. The current pandemic is a perfect example of such invisible enemy, which is hard to fight against when the viruses cannot be seen armed and dangerous. Likewise, it is hard to believe that surfaces can mitigate the risk of infection unless made visible somehow. Luckily, science serves this particular issue.

ISKU has conducted various research in cooperation with partner companies, universities and other institutions to make the invisible efficacy of antimicrobial surfaces become visible. These studies include premises from all essential public premises: learning, working and healthcare environments. Although antimicrobial efficacy on surfaces is a mature technology and there are around four thousand scientific articles available, ISKU has chosen to find out the results with its own ISKU+ concept.

Learning environment was researched in Taatila School. Antimicrobial and non-antimicrobial but equivalent school furniture were placed in parallel classrooms. The furniture articles were pupils’ desks and chairs, teachers’ desks from ISKU and door handles from ABLOY. Antimicrobial furniture were manufactured with BioCote® silver-ion technology. Cleaning and hand washing practices along with utilization were standardized in both classrooms. The results showed significantly reduced microbe amounts in the antimicrobial classroom. Furthermore, during the 6-month sample period, short-term absenteeism plummeted by 52% compared to the conventional classroom.

Office environment, as an essential meeting hotspot among people, was researched by BioCote® with various antimicrobial products including office desks and office chairs manufactured by ISKU. An open plan office space was equipped both with non-antimicrobial and antimicrobial versions of everyday office products. Cleaning, utilization and environmental factors were standardized. 6-month surface swabbing and testing period resulted in 92.7% difference in total bacterial counts on average between non-antimicrobial and antimicrobial products among all examined furniture. The examined non-antimicrobial office desk revealed to be the most contaminated object and its antimicrobial version gathered 95.14% less bacteria.

Healthcare environment is an area were infections are not tolerated. ISKU conducted a research together with Hygtech Alliance and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Apila Occupational Healthcare Center. The research concerned various areas throughout the unit with antimicrobial and non-antimicrobial versions to be compared. To name the highlights, the antimicrobial doctor’s table stood out with 81% less bacteria compared to the non-antimicrobial version. Also, staff lounge room table resulted with 82% reduction on bacteria in the antimicrobial version.

All in all, we see the pattern forming, antimicrobial indoor spaces are less contaminated regardless of the purpose of the space. Taatila School showed us the reasoning of lowering the microbe amounts: less microbes lead to less absenteeism. This correlation can be acknowledged with scientific literature with additional evidence of the correlation, even in the context of intensive care unit where hygiene is a matter of life and death.

NOTE to reader

ISKU’s product range includes also EPA approved brass products, where antimicrobial copper eliminates microbes including COVID-19. For other technologies, research and testing are still ongoing but there have been positive results within the same pathogen family already.

About the author

Joonas Vikström

Joonas has experience working within international markets and holds a master’s degree in risk management and insurance.

ISKU+ concept is an inspiring opportunity to combine the sustainability and social responsibility of ISKU with so called hard values of profitability and organizational productivity in our customers’ operations. Electric office desks were the revolution of ergonomic working conditions, antimicrobial furniture does the same via indoor hygiene.