Importance of European Norms in Disinfection

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A recent article in the Health Estate Journal (HEJ) by Chartered Biologist Dr Tim Sandle reveals the importance of using the most up to date standards in disinfection and cleaning in hospitals and healthcare facilities, as detailed by the European Norms (EN).

Effective cleaning and disinfection of instruments, apparatus and surfaces is absolutely critical in preventing the spread of pathogens, especially when considering the additional risks of the Covid-19 virus. 

As such, selecting not only the correct disinfectant solutions but applying them correctly is of utmost importance. The EN standards are a good benchmark in this process, with rigorous testing underpinning the data used to establish the standards in the first place.

Key aspects of disinfectant selection include:

  • Understanding fully what the requirements are of the areas or items to be disinfected
  • Understanding fully what the properties of the various disinfectant options are including spectrum of activity, mode of action and application, and efficacy
  • What testing has been conducted on the products under scrutiny for selection, including:
    • Disinfectant concentration testing
    • Contact time testing

Relating to these, Dr Sandle advises to ask the following:

  • Is it biologically plausible that this disinfectant chemistry will have the level and range of biocidal activity being claimed? For example, only a relatively few disinfectant chemistries have meaningful sporicidal activity (generally chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, or peracetic-acid based ones).
  • Was an appropriate testing standard used? For example, a suspension test (such as EN 13727:2012) does not provide good evidence that a disinfectant will be active against bacteria dried onto surfaces; instead, a carrier test (such as EN 13697:2015) should be used in addition.
  • Were the tests performed in an accredited, experienced laboratory that has produced a report with a sufficient level of detail? If not, biocidal efficacy could be over-estimated.

What are the relevant standards that should be present on disinfectants suitable for use in hospital/healthcare facility environments?

  • EN 13624:2013, ‘Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of fungicidal or yeasticidal activity in the medical area’. This supersedes EN 13624:2003;
  • EN 13727:2012+A2:2015, ‘Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of bactericidal activity in the medical area’. This supersedes EN 13727:2003;
  • EN 14476:2013+A2:2019, ‘Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics: Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of virucidal activity in the medical area’
  • EN 17126:2018, ‘Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of sporicidal activity of chemical disinfectants in the medical area’.

The above standards and assessments should be applied to all aspects of disinfection, including:

  • Hygienic handwash, rubs and sanitisers
  • Surgical hand rub and handwash
  • Instrument disinfection by immersion
  • Surface disinfection 

At AVM Services, we provide a broad range of training and services including Decontamination Training, Consultancy, Compliance and Validation. Please contact us to find out more.

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