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Returning to Work Post-COVID-19: Could Anti-Microbial Surfaces Be Dangerous?

I worry that using anti-bacterial technology in our workplace materials will cause a crisis far beyond what COVID-19 posed.

Even before COVID-19, open office floor plans have been shown to have 62% more sick days than private office plans! B.U.T.… 


Deborah

Written April 2020

by Deborah Read MOTR/L

ErgoFit Consulting, Inc.

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Please be VERY careful of the panicked reaction I’m seeing in articles and webinars that suggest using technologies that kill bacteria! 

We NEED bacteria to live.  Ask medical professionals if they use anti-bacterial soap at home, and 9 times out of 10 the answer will be a resounding “NO” because they understand the danger already posed by “Super Bugs” that have evolved to live despite antibiotics.  This is ALREADY a major global medical crisis.  https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance

Anti-microbial surfaces have not been studied for safety to humans or the environment.  Knowing our track record as humans, I am very suspicious of negative multi-generational health and environmental effects.  The peer reviewed journal article “Potential ecotoxicological effects of antimicrobial surface coatings….” By Ronsenberg, M. et al. states in the abstract that:  “….while the use of antimicrobial/antifouling coatings could currently pose ecotoxicological effects mainly in marine applications, the broad use of AMCs in other applications like medicine, food packaging and textiles should be postponed until reaching evidences on the (i) profound efficiency of these materials in controlling the spread of pathogenic microbes and (ii) safety of AMCs for the human and ecosystems.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375256/

 

 

History’s Warning

According to an article by Vickie Nicola of Stantec https://www.workdesign.com/2020/04/choosing-responsibly-healthier-materials-in-the-workplace/

“Today there are 86,000 chemicals in use with only 200 tested by the EPA—and just a handful of those are regulated. Traces of 167 industrial chemicals and pollutants can be found in one adult in the U.S. Of those, 76 are linked to cancer, 86 are known endocrine disruptors (which interfere with your hormones), and 79 may cause birth defects and developmental delays.

 

“A person’s workplace can be contributing to these chemical exposures. Building products have some of the worst known chemicals, such as persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances (PBTs), which are unnatural and will never break down on earth or in our bodies. Additionally, their quantity increases as they move up the food chain. In thousands of years some of our choices – like flame retardants, antimicrobials [emphasis added], and stain resistance treatments — will still be lingering around on earth and its inhabitants. Think, if it pollutes the planet it will pollute the people [emphasis added].

 

“Other products that have chemicals of concern are plastics, which contain phthalates (the ingredient that make plastic and vinyl flexible and soft). As building products degrade over time and surface treatments wear off, the chemicals that make up the ingredients become dust. The dust then enters the body through our skin, our mouths, or the air we breathe. Phthalates have been linked to asthma and are known to reduce fertility in men…” 

 

So, again I worry that using anti-bacterial technology in our workplace materials will cause a crisis far beyond what COVID-19 posed.


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