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Level of Bacteria on Elevator Buttons 40 Times Higher Than on Public Toilet Seats


The number of bacteria present on an elevator button is almost 40 times higher than on a public toilet seat, according to new findings. Research carried out in hotels, restaurants, banks, offices and airports, showed that the level of bacteria on elevator buttons averaged 313 colony forming units (CFUs) per square centimeter, compared to 8 CFUs on the average public toilet seat. Among the common bacteria likely to be found are E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Nicholas Moon, PhD, director of technical and regulatory affairs at Microban Europe, for which the research was carried out, explains, "In a busy building, an elevator 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, perhaps 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 buttons at the point of production, providing durable antibacterial and antifungal protection that is designed to last 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 program 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 percent of bacteria."

"Elevator 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," Moon says. "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."

Microban’s research was conducted by the University of Arizona by collecting samples from hotels, restaurants, banks, offices and airports. The buttons were swabbed with Spongesicle containing 10ml of neutralizing buffer. The estimated surface swabbed on each button was 7.06 square centimeters. Agar plates were incubated for five days at 30 degrees centigrade and bacteria colonies were then counted. Microban’s laboratoties hold ISO 9001 accreditation.

Microban International is a global leader in built-in antibacterial product protection, dedicated to the continuous development of durable antibacterial solutions for consumer, industrial and medical products around the world. It offers a range of more than 20 different antibacterial technologies, holds more than 100 patents and conducts more than 40,000 laboratory tests annually to underpin technical efficacy. The company has licensed its technologies to more than 150 partners worldwide including such brands as Whirlpool, Bissell, Rubbermaid, Johnson & Johnson®, Dupont® and many other leading brands who have incorporated Microban antibacterial protection into more than 1,000 products. Microban International is headquartered in Huntersville, North Carolina, Microban also has European operations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain, together with an Asian head office based in Hong Kong.

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