US healthcare provider bans 15 antimicrobials in new building materials

Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, has prohibited the use of 15 antimicrobials in fabric, furniture and finishes in any of its building projects going forward. The company said it consulted with infection-disease experts, before notifying furniture and fabric suppliers it would no longer buy products, containing the following antimicrobial agents: benzisothiazolin 3-one (BIT); 4,4-dimethyloxazolidine; didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (DDAC); diiodomethyl p-tolyl sulfone; hexamethylenetetramine; kathon 886 (CIT/MIT mixture); methylchlorothiazolinone (CIT, CMIT); methylisothiazolinone (MIT); n-octadecyldimethyl (3-(trimethyoxysilyl) propyl) ammonium chloride; quaternary ammonium compounds, benzyl-C8-16-alkyldimethyl,chlorides; silver (nano); silver sodium hydrogen zirconium phosphate; silver zinc zeolites; triclosan; and zinc pyrithione. The decision agrees with the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2003 finding that proper cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces will kill pathogens effectively and prevent the risk of spreading hospital-associated infections, the company noted. This risk is further reduced with appropriate hand washing by staff and patients. Kaiser Permanente has 38 hospitals and more than 600 medical offices in the US. Although the ban applies to new construction projects not yet in the purchasing phase, the decision will have significant influence, the company said. It said it has thousands of construction projects – from minor remodels to major hospital construction – underway at any time. “Our thought is that if there’s a non-chemical way to solve a problem or greener products that offer the same performance, we should pursue those as a safer alternative,” said John Kouletsis, Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of facilities planning and design. Several years ago, the company stopped purchasing hand soaps that contain the antibacterial triclosan “because it was found to be no more effective than washing with plain soap and water, and may cause hormone-related health problems,” said Kathy Gerwig, vice president of employee safety, health and wellness, and Kaiser Permanente’s environmental stewardship officer. “Removing antimicrobials from interior products is an extension of our longstanding efforts to create healthier environments for everyone,” she said. Bill Walsh, with Healthy Building Network, a US NGO, said that Kaiser Permanente’s decision will influence the building material choices of other large organisations. “Kaiser Permanente is looked at as an innovator,” Walsh said. “Other healthcare systems and other building owners are likely to review their own building policies to see if they are using materials with biocides.” In October, Kaiser Permanente released a bulletin to suppliers announcing that it had banned the use of triclosan and 12 other antimicrobial chemicals and elements, added to fabrics, furniture and finishes in its building projects. The company added two more antimicrobials to this list in November. The list includes an exception for copper-impregnated surfaces.

Chemical Watch, 25 November 2015 ; ;