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Using silver to fight microbial attack

SpecialChem / Nov 17, 2003

The inert nature and antimicrobial efficiency of silver make it an attractive option for the food processing and medical equipment industries. It is not toxic, flammable or corrosive and will not cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. Two main reasons stand out for using antimicrobials in food processing and medical plastics. One is to stop bacteria or fungi degrading the object’s physical properties, and the other is to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria, which can be a source of infection to humans. Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae can affect the aesthetic and physical properties of a plastic by causing black spotting or discoloration, odour and polymer degradation. And in hospitals and care homes where patients are particularly vulnerable to infection, the build up of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can contribute to the spread of deadly infections. Food processing plants offer an ideal environment for microbes, and some equipment manufacturers are now incorporating antimicrobial additives into their components to help reduce cleaning and therefore plant downtime.

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