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Sterilising gas 'could clean wards'


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.



Readers' comments (3)

  • So, chlorhexidine is back and we now return to something which sounds suspiciously like fumigation. Next someone will wonder if hospitals laundering uniforms might help...
    Bit difficult to use the system in a ward area of course.
    Perhaps we can tell the patients it is only a shower.

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  • comment above.

    Does this mean that hospital wards in the UK are not emptied and deep cleaned on a regular basis? you seem to perceive difficulties there. if they are not there is little wonder they are harbingers of all types of germs.
    I do not know what method was used to regularly 'defumigate' walls and furnishings on our wards but patients were moved out and they were sealed for at least two hours after the process. This process was also carried out after discharge if we had patients with infections or for our isolation units prior to admission of patients requiring barrier nursing for immuno-suppressive disorders. All beds were stripped and bed frames and mattresses and pillows with plastic covers were washed down by us with disinfectant before being sent to a central bed disinfection unit after discharge. Lockers and the surrounding area of the bed were also thoroughly damp dusted with disinfectant.

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  • This is actually killing things by oxidation, so the problem is to ensure that other materials are not degraded by the process while the bugs are killed.

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