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Technical briefing: Antimicrobials, antivirals and antibiotics

Before the words lockdown, coronavirus and pandemic had entered our daily conversations, at Amtico we were already aware of the importance of hygiene and cleanability of our LVT flooring.

And in this new post-pandemic world, where these are now the buzz words, there is an avalanche of confusing information out there. We sat down with Gary Wilson, Head of Technical at Amtico, to cut through the jargon and misinformation and set the record straight about antimicrobials, antivirals and antibiotics...

Amber Oak from the Amtico Form collection

What does antimicrobial mean?

Well antimicrobials, or biocides, are a generic group of substances that reduce the presence of harmful microorganisms. They can fall into three broad categories:

Antibiotics – these are antimicrobial drugs solely for human/animal consumption. Each drug targets a specific species and/or part of a microorganism in the human body.

Disinfectants – not suitable for human consumption, these are present in domestic and industrial wipes, sprays and cleaners. With a very high kill rate on use, the effects quickly fade without reapplication.

Embedded antimicrobials – this is the class that is used in Amtico’s 36+ safety, Marine and Form LVT and offers continual control of bacterial growth on a surface.

What’s the difference between antimicrobial and antibacterial?

All bacteria are microbes, but not all microbes are bacteria. Antibacterial solutions will protect a surface from bacteria, but antimicrobial solutions protect from bacteria plus mould, fungi and other equally unpleasant microorganisms.

So, what’s antiviral?

Viruses are the smallest types of microbes and have a different cell structure – bacteria are living organisms whereas viruses are not – they need a “host” cell to replicate. Antimicrobial solutions can sometimes be effective against viruses as well, but it’s important to understand exactly which viruses.

Independent testing of our inorganic antimicrobial additive in a range of other polymers and coatings has demonstrated efficacy of up to 99.8% against viruses including Human coronavirus NL63 and Feline coronavirus.

Alpine Oak from the Amtico Signature 36+ Collection combines aesthetics, enhanced slip resistance and antimicrobial protection

How does Amtico’s antimicrobial product work?

We add an ionic silver additive to the urethane coating that provides a hygienic surface where bacteria cannot multiply or survive. This active ingredient has been proven to reduce bacteria present by > 99.99% over 24 hours.

How can you prove it works?

Our antimicrobial performs to globally recognised standard, ISO 22196:2011 (Antibacterial activity of non-porous surfaces).

Embedded antimicrobials are not designed to replace cleaning and disinfection, but to provide an additional level of protection between regular cleaning cycles in high traffic spaces. All our antimicrobial flooring achieves the same levels of high performance against sunlight, scuffs and stains and heavy traffic that you expect from any Amtico floor.

Do embedded antimicrobials contribute to the growth of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria?

The growth of antimicrobial resistance is a very real threat that has been identified by the WHO. However, this is linked to the use and misuse of antibiotic treatments in patient care, and there is not yet any scientific link between the use of embedded antimicrobials and the rise of these new resistant bacteria strains.

The inorganic additive in our flooring and other types of embedded antimicrobials targets many types of microorganism and many components within those, making it very difficult for any strain to become resistant.

Is this additive safe for the environment?

Completely safe. The additive is enclosed within the flooring and doesn’t leak or evaporate into the environment. We’ve introduced it into our 36+, Marine and Form collections as we know how important it is to our customers that we have collections that provide that additional peace of mind, but without any negative environmental impact.

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This article was written by:

Gary Wilson
Head of Technical, Amtico

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