Electrolyzed Water eradicates hospital water bugs

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have developed a new system that eradicates bacterial contamination in hospital water tanks, distribution systems and taps.

They say the new system is highly effective and inexpensive, and could be used throughout the hospital service.

Water contamination was linked to the deaths recently of three babies in a Belfast maternity hospital from pseudomonas infection.

According to the researchers funded by the the Health Research Board and Dublin Dental University Hospital, hospital wash basin taps and output water are reservoirs of bacteria that can lead to serious consequences for patients.

Prof David Coleman of TCD, principal investigator with the project, said hospital water systems and washbasin taps are frequently contaminated with biofilm containing bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

He said at the start of the study, the team measured the amount of bacteria in hot and cold water from the Dental Hospital’s clinic washbasin taps. The predominant bacteria identified were pseudomonas and related species.

The researchers cleaned and disinfected the water system at the hospital and then developed and installed a novel automated water disinfectant system to eradicate miocrobioal contamination on an ongoing basis.

The new system involved treating the water with Hypochlorous Acid (HOCL), an environmentally-friendly disinfectant. Electronic probes constantly monitor the levels of disinfectant in the water and adjust the levels via automated pumps when contamination is found.

The disinfectant is generated by electrochemical activation of a dilute solution using an onsite generator.

Following monitoring over 54 weeks, it was was found that the system virtually eliminated bacteria from taps.

The researchers said their results showed that by systematically destroying bacteria in a hospital’s water distribution network and in the in the supply water, they have devised a consistently effective and safe means of ensuring that hospital water and washbasin taps are no longer reservoirs of contamination that can lead to patient infection.

The HRB/TCD researchers claim their system costs much less than current less efficient water treatment systems and their technology could be adopted in the health service to improve patient safety and reduce running costs.

They have stressed that their new disinfectant system is not harmful for human contact. They are planning to assess the effectiveness of the new system further in a larger hospital as part of their project.

The research is published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

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