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High levels of bacteria found on lift buttons

Published 21st October, 2010 by Neil Nixon

High levels of bacteria found on lift buttons

The number of bacteria present on a lift button is more than three times higher than on a public toilet seat according to Microban, the antibacterial protection specialist.

Research carried out for Microban in hotels, restaurants, banks, offices and airports, showed that the level of bacteria on lift buttons averaged 2200 colony forming units per square centimetre, compared to eight on the average public toilet seat. Among the common bacteria likely to be found are E-coli, Staph-aureus and MRSA.

Dr Nicholas Moon Ph.D, director of technical and regulatory affairs at Microban Europe, which is based in Cannock, Staffordshire, said that there was every reason to believe that similar results would be achieved if this research undertaken in US laboratories was repeated in the UK or elsewhere. He explained: "In a busy building, a lift button can be touched by dozens of different people who will have come into contact with all kinds of bacteria every hour. Even if the buttons are cleaned regularly, the potential for the build up of bacteria is high. It is easy to see that in some environments, especially airports and hotels where there are thousands of people from different places regularly touching lift buttons, that they could be a major potential point for cross contamination and the spread of disease."

Microban antibacterial protection is designed to be incorporated into products such as plastic life buttons at the point of production, providing durable antibacterial and antifungal protection that lasts the useful life of the product. The company uses a wide range of technologies to suit each specific application but predominantly makes use of third generation silver. On untreated products, bacteria can potentially double in number in 20 minutes but Microban disrupts their functioning, usually causing them to die within 24 hours.

A dedicated certification programme ensures that quality testing is regularly carried out on all products carrying the Microban branding and that antibacterial claims are technically supported. This allows manufacturers utilising Microban to use robust claims about their efficacy - for example, ‘preventing 99.9% of bacteria’.

Dr. Moon continued: "Lift buttons are an obvious application for the use of Microban technology and are already used by some of our partner companies including lift component manufacturer LiftStore. While our treatments should never replace normal hygiene precautions such as routine cleaning with water and disinfectants, they can play an important part in inhibiting the growth and spread of potentially harmful bacteria."