A new way of eliminating germs using sterilising gas could revolutionise the way hospital wards are cleaned, it has been claimed.
The technique involves pumping a mixture of ozone and hydrogen peroxide into a room to wipe out microbes on walls, mattresses, chairs and other surfaces.
It mirrors the way the immune system tackles bacterial infection.
Ozone and hydrogen peroxide are produced in tiny quantities in the body to form a highly reactive compound that destroys microbes.
Dr Dick Zoutman, from Queen’s University in Canada, who helped develop the system, said: “It works well for Mother Nature and is working very well for us.
“This is the future, because many hospital deaths are preventable with better cleaning methods. It has been reported that more than 100,000 people in North America die every year due to hospital-acquired infections. That’s 100,000 people every year who are dying from largely preventable infections.”
Dr Zoutman is working with the US company Medizone International which plans to make the technology commercially available next year.
The ozone-hydrogen peroxide treatment is also said to be effective against bed bugs.
One major US hotel chain has already expressed an interest in using it to prevent losses of millions of dollars caused by the pests.
The disinfection process takes less than an hour and is said to leave a pleasant smell. It is also safe to use in food preparation areas, according to Dr Zoutman.
- Zoutman D, et al. Effectiveness of a novel ozone-based system for the rapid high-level disinfection of health care spaces and surfaces. American Journal of Infection Control 2011; Advance online publication.