Hidden Dangers of Choosing the Wrong Antimicrobial Coating
The Covid-19 pandemic that broke out in 2020 has changed the way many of us view cleanliness and hygiene. It has raised awareness of the different precautions that can be taken to provide additional protection, creating a new demand for antimicrobial coatings.
This resulted in the antimicrobial coating industry receiving a boom with many new businesses opening rapidly. By June 2020, more than 30 new entities had been registered with ACRA.
However, not all antimicrobial coatings are safe to use. Just like vaccines, antimicrobial products created in a rush may compromise certain health standards. Here are the hidden dangers of choosing the wrong antimicrobial coatings.
- Cancer Risk: Leaching vs Non-leaching
- Risk of Developing Resistant-bacteria
- Impractical Requirements for Activation
- Ineffective Protection (Due to Inaccurate Test Results)
There are two types of antimicrobial coatings: leaching and non-leaching.
Leaching refers to when certain materials “leak” from their original compound. Leaching coatings comprise ingredients such as copper, silver, and titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles.
When these leaching antimicrobial coatings kill germs, they release ions or free radicals into the surrounding environment. Accumulated exposure in an enclosed area to these particles in the lungs may result in chronic illnesses such as being carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Although TiO2 is an ingredient used in cosmetic and sunscreen products which have shown to be safe for direct skin exposure, data from scientific studies have proven that when exposed to the lungs, it can be hazardous.
Non-leaching antimicrobial coatings are products such as sdst and sdpro that are made with a US-EPA approved antimicrobial active ingredient. Non-leaching antimicrobial coatings are environmentally friendly and safe for children and pets as they do not “leak” harmful material into the environment and “kill” germs using nanospikes as opposed to harsh chemicals.
Many individuals are selecting leaching antimicrobial coatings due to its price since it is very cheap. The danger of this is just like using a cheap water bottle, which can result in individuals being exposed to a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) that can cause diseases such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. The use of cheap (leaching) antimicrobial coatings too can result in chronic illnesses.
Other leaching products such as TiO2 and resonance technology require an activation source such as light or sound energy for them to be effective.
In the test laboratory where the test was conducted, there would be constant light and sound energy provided. However, there would not be enough light or energy especially in areas such as doorknobs, bags, or the dining room in homes, resulting in the antimicrobial coating becoming ineffective and impractical for usage at home to kill germs
Many businesses did not put their products through rigorous test criteria such as daily abrasions or wipes. They only tested it on intervals such as day 30, 60, 90, and 180, computing up to only 4 days of testing, making their results inaccurate.
Those businesses that did put their products through daily abrasions and wipes did it in their own offices without a reputable third-party test laboratory to validate the results every week or month, making their results potentially biased. Third-party test laboratories such as Singapore Test Lab must be accredited to international standards ISO/IEC 1705: 2017. A list of accredited testing laboratories can also be found on the National Environment Agency website,
Many businesses also only conducted their tests on 20 tables and 20 chairs. This does not constitute large-scale test data. Large-scale data requires a minimum of 100 sample sizes.
Protect Yourself From Unsafe Products
Much as the increased prevalence of antimicrobial coating solutions in Singapore is encouraging as it shows that individuals realize the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. It is equally important to ensure that the product purchased is safe, works well in eliminating germs, and does not cost you your health.
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Gray, N. (2020). European Commission publishes titanium dioxide classification. Retrieved from https://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Article/2020/02/19/European-Commission-publishes-titanium-dioxide-classification.
Hext P. M., Tomenson J. A. Thompson P. (2005). Titanium Dioxide: Inhalation Toxicology and Epidemiology, The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Volume 49, Issue 6, August 2005, Pages 461–472, https://doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/mei012.
Pham-Huy, L. A., He, H., & Pham-Huy, C. (2008). Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. International journal of biomedical science : IJBS, 4(2), 89–96.
Silver S. (2003). Bacterial silver resistance: molecular biology and uses and misuses of silver compounds, FEMS Microbiology Reviews, Volume 27, Issue 2-3, June 2003, Pages 341–353, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0168-6445(03)00047-0
Dr. Yeo Wee Ming is an experienced microbiologist with over 10 years of experience working with microbes and anti-microbial products. He is also the Managing Director of SUTL Environtech Pte Ltd, master distributor of sd products in Singapore and Asia.
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