The pandemic has put a focus on many previously overlooked safety factors. Frequently touched surfaces such as switches and sockets are an example of this. Amy Burley, Senior Offering Management Specialist at MK Electric, examines what housebuilders can do to make the touchpoints included in a build safer and healthier.
The challenge for housebuilders is how cost-effective, long-term strategies can be implemented to create a healthier living environment. Electrical wiring devices, such as switches and sockets, are just one of many touchpoints around a building that can provide opportunities for pathogens to spread. Therefore, choosing products that have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties may help give occupants peace of mind, especially those living in shared housing or properties with communal areas.
Beyond the short term
Many devices are now manufactured from materials which have these attributes, such as urea formaldehyde, making them an effective tool in killing harmful bacteria and viruses. Both MK’s Logic Plus and MK Base ranges are made using urea formaldehyde, a high-grade thermoset material with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties inherent in the compound of the product.
Adding scratch free to the spec list is also important. Thanks to high quality mould tools used on MK’s urea formaldehyde wiring devices this feature helps to minimise surfaces for pathogens to hide, providing another way to help stop the spread of infections.
Meeting the standards
While there are many anti-bacterial and anti-viral products on the market it is important to take a closer look at claims and fully understand what they mean to provide the best levels of protection for building occupants and make sure the highest standards are being specified.
First, it is worth noting that the test carried out on a product’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties should comply with the latest internationally-recognised standard – ISO 22196:2011. This specifies a method of evaluating microbial activity of treated plastics and other non-porous, surfaces of products. As part of meeting this standard, the product tested must remain in contact with the microbes for 24 hours. The tests also must be carried out under set temperatures and humidity levels. What’s more, multiple test samples are required, and control tests are also done to eliminate variables that are not being examined, maximising the reliability of the test results.
Both Logic Plus and Mk Base have been tested by an independently accredited laboratory to the latest industry standard for antibacterial measurement for plastics, ISO 22196:2011.
When determining the effectiveness of electrical product materials in killing bacteria and viruses or preventing their growth, it is also important to look at which types they have been tested against. This means that the products can provide protection against as many prevalent harmful pathogens as possible. Although the ISO 22196: 2011 test method uses Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli, other pathogens can also be tested without compromising on this standard.
The MK Logic Plus and MK Base portfolios have been tested and proven to have outstanding kill rate protection against Listeria, Staphylococcus Aureus 6538p (which is known to be resistant to antibiotics), MRSA, E. coli and Salmonella.
The spread of viruses can also cause a wide variety of unwanted illnesses. As one of the smallest known non-enveloped viruses, Phi-X174, is used as an internationally recognised standard in anti-viral testing to analyse the resistance of critical PPE and air filtration systems to blood-borne viruses. This is due to non-enveloped viruses being much harder to kill because they carry the proteins used to infect cells in an inner layer which is less susceptible to disinfectants. This is one of the reasons why protection against Phi-X174 is used as a standard for evaluating anti-viral performance. Both the MK Logic Plus and MK Base ranges have been tested in accordance with ISO 22196: 2011against the Phi-X174 virus, with kill rates of over 99.99% and 99.99% respectively.
The demand for reliable wiring devices that provide a quality, finish, and reliability every time, remains non-negotiable whatever the budget available. With Logic Plus and MK Base designed to offer products that meet this need, provide the flexibility to suit budgets available, plus addressing the latest health concerns, they give housebuilders the opportunity to incorporate long-term measures that help create healthier building environments.