Every year, lives are lost because of the spread of infections. Infection prevention and control is required to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases in all health care settings. Cross-contamination is the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object or place to another. Preventing cross-contamination is a key factor in preventing illness.
What are viruses?
Viruses are too small to be seen by the naked eye. They can’t multiply on their own, so they have to invade a ‘host’ cell and take over its machinery in order to be able to make more virus particles. Viruses consist of genetic materials (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protective coat of protein. They are capable of latching onto cells and getting inside them. The cells of the mucous membranes, such as those lining the respiratory passages that we breathe through, are particularly open to virus attacks because they are not covered by protective skin.
What are bacteria?
Bacteria are organisms made up of just one cell. They are capable of multiplying by themselves, as they have the power to divide. Their shapes vary, and doctors use these characteristics to separate them into groups. Bacteria exist everywhere, inside and on our bodies. Most of them are completely harmless and some of them are very useful. But some bacteria can cause diseases, either because they end up in the wrong place in the body or simply because they are ‘designed’ to invade us.
Microorganisms are very diverse and include bacteria, fungi, and algae. Microorganisms live in all parts on the earth where there is liquid water, including hot springs, on the ocean floor, high in the atmosphere, and deep inside rocks within the Earth’s crust. Certain microbes have adapted to withstand unusual environmental conditions, including extreme pressure, temperature, acidity, and radiation. These microscopic organisms are found in plants and animals as well as in the human body. Wherever we are, we have the company of microbes.
A promising approach for remediating volatile organic compounds or VOCs is to employ photocatalyst that oxidize these compounds. It is a substance that facilitates chemical reactions by photo-irradiation without becoming transformed:
Toxic VOC + Light + Water + Photocatalyst = Non-Toxic inorganic Gas + Photocatalyst
Photocatalyst has the following advantages over any current air/water purification technologies:
- Real destruction of pollutant rather than a simple transfer on a substrate
- Degradation of pollutant at ambient temperature and pressure
- Build with easily available materials and by mean of well-known techniques
- Economical, cheap and low energy consumption
- Adapted for a large range of pollutant (VOC, bacteria, mold)