Why misleading disinfectant claims can harm you
This article was originally posted here.
We recently looked at the ISO process for testing disinfectants to ensure they’re effective in doing what they say they do.
However, despite this 3 phase process being well established, many companies wriggle around measures when validating their formulations and make ambiguous disinfectant claims.
It seems that some products make performance claims that sound scientifically robust, knowing that it’s hard for customers to try to refute those claims.
These claims relate to the cleanliness of feminine hygiene waste bins in commercial bathrooms. These bins are used by women and cleaners every day across the globe, meaning the cleaning products used on them must follow the established testing processes or they pose a risk to all those who touch them.
At Genesis Biosciences, we’re proud to say we follow the ISO regulations and testing methods with precision.
Any disinfectant products out there that don’t actually reduce the levels of pathogens to below an infectious dose are not contributing to a reduction in disease, meaning you may as well be using water!
To catch up on the 3 phases in disinfectant testing, read this previous blog post.
So, what kind of disinfectant claims are products making?
‘…..all our sanitary waste bins contain Envirosan® Active spray; a safe and effective germicide which incorporates a natural enzyme to combat harmful bacteria and odour. Envirosan® is certified against HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C and is the only germicide to conform to BS1276 and BS13727.’ https://www.phs.co.uk/our-products/washrooms/cubicle-products/eclipse-sanitary-disposal 
Unfortunately, BS1276 and BS13727 are part of Phase 2, Part 1 of the 3 Phase process. This means they’re only useful in supporting claims in aqueous systems. As sanitary waste bins aren’t usually full of water, this particular germicide is not up to the job. As for the other testing phases within the ISO process, PHS Group offers no information.
‘Femcare™ antimicrobial liner is the first feminine hygiene sanitary waste liner incorporating Biomaster® antimicrobial silver ion protection and odour eliminating technology. Biomaster® is an ISO 22196:2011 approved antimicrobial additive. Biomaster® provides 24/7 protection against bacterial build up from harmful germs such as MRSA, E.Coli and Legionella giving safe, effective and permanent protection. It works by reducing the growth of bacteria inside and outside of the liner by up to 99.99%.’ www.vectairsystems.com/products/feminine-hygiene/femcare-antimicrobial-scented-liners/ 
The ISO 22196:2011 accreditation evaluates the antibacterial activity of treated plastics and other nonporous surfaces of products. Unlike other methods for assessing antimicrobial treated plastics (such as the Japanese Standard JIS Z 2801:2000 which specifies a value over which antimicrobial efficacy is accredited) no pass, fail criterion is defined for the ISO22196:2011 method. Therefore the term ‘approval’ makes it sound much more impressive than it is.
Furthermore, the ‘approval’ specified here is for the antimicrobial additive, and not for the liners themselves.
The ISO 22196:2011 standard assesses the ability of the antibacterial agent (biocide) in suppressing the growth of bacteria on the non-porous surfaces of the products in which it is incorporated. Therefore any anti-microbial activity demonstrated with this standard method can only be made in relation to the treated surface itself, and used to support claims of destroying bacteria which land or come into contact with the treated surface. This anti-microbial activity would not apply to neutralising all of the sanitary waste or surrounding space inside the sanitary waste bins.
Therefore, a 99.9% reduction in bacteria, sounds impressive but in reality this only provides a 3 log reduction in bacterial numbers. If the levels of bacteria inside the sanitary bin were significant, this kill rate may not be effective in reducing the levels to below an infectious dose.
‘Through our association with PerryMac, WhiffAway Group has access to safeguard, which is a revolutionary sanitary treatment solution for overcoming odours, controlling levels of pathogens and repelling flies.’ www.whiffaway.com/sanitary-waste-treatment/ 
With very little information, this description manages to say the correct things without any data to back it up. The level of performance and the methods used to measure it are not described.
Without transparent reporting of their efficacy data (which include references to the specific experimental conditions used) companies can sell ineffective products to customers who may not know the essential criteria for safe, high quality disinfectants.
Waste treatment products should be effective in cleaning the intended areas and keeping users safe.
To find out more about disinfectant testing, click here.
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