This blog was written by Dolphin Solutions Ltd
Washrooms have a significant part to play in reducing the spread of germs in any public environment, particularly when it comes to hand washing. Research has shown the hand washing area as the worst culprit in terms of levels of contamination, with more than 50,000 Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) present on or around a standard basin at any one time.
With growing interest in a building’s ‘wellness’ criteria in both the public and corporate sectors, washrooms are being evaluated ever more by what they do, or do not offer the user and equally as important in this criteria is how easy they are to clean, maintain and how they inhibit the growth of bacteria.
The WELL Standards were launched to promote the health and wellbeing of people in their own environment. The WELL certification can be awarded to buildings that offer a healthy environment for the people that live and work there, using architectural solutions to do so. Initially launching in 2014, the WELL Standards version 2 was released in 2018 and expanded on the original standards with a 10-concept structure.
Of the total 10 WELL Standards concepts which each have performance requirements to meet, there are 4 which are related to washroom facilities:
• Air – Washroom facilities that limit exposure to indoor air pollutants which can impact individual’s health (Filtration systems, ventilation and smoke-free environments).
• Community - Designing washrooms that enable all individuals to thrive in their environment (Installation of grab rails and products which accommodate accessibility for all).
• Nourishment- Large basins/troughs and soap dispensers and hand dryers that ensure hygiene levels are kept high.
• Water – Provides hydration and sanitation. Ensuring control of drinking water, as well as supplying soap dispensers and high- quality water to prevent the spread of bacteria during hand washing.
Hygiene is a key environmental factor that affects our health and is fundamental to meeting WELL requirements. As experts in washroom facilities, Dolphin’s consultants can advise on how to design with hygiene in mind and which products to specify to minimise bacteria growth.
From sensor taps and dispensers to wash troughs, and the ultimate in washroom technology, the Alavo wash wall system, Dolphin Solutions are manufacturers, offering exceptional quality and immense breadth of product range.
With 30 countries recognising the WELL Standards as a guide for design, Dolphin are investing in research and developing a range of products that meet the certification as the Standards become more and more relevant to the commercial washroom.
Making soap clean again:
One area that is often neglected is the maintenance and topping up of soap dispensers. The potential to create bacteria through blocked filters, gauzes and pipework and the resulting congealed soap is surprisingly high. And once contaminated it is extremely difficult to eliminate symptoms; suspended stringy light strands (Biofilm), thickening of soap, darkening colour, appearance of dirty dish water and foul smells.
Bacteria growth in soap is notorious in top up dispensers when the soap becomes contaminated with environmental bacteria. This is usually due to bacteria being introduced through the topping up process. Bacteria is present on host particles in the air such as dirt, hair, dust etc. Commercial/public washrooms contain a lot of these particles, particularly dust from toilet roll and paper towels. People spread bacteria and fungi onto these products and during use they give off vast amounts of dust particles into the air. This can then make its way into the soap especially when a bulk fill tank is opened and refilled. The use of antibacterial soap can help although these tend to be harsher to the users.
The science bit:
Most soaps contain preservatives which are designed and proven to fight off a given level of microbial contamination. The amount of preservative which can be added is governed by the cosmetic regulations. This preservative will be able to overcome a normal level of microbial contamination from the environment, but it can become “used up”. In very broad terms one molecule of the preservative kills one cell of bacteria. The preservative cannot be regenerated whereas the bacteria can have exponential growth given the right conditions. Once the bacterial growth has overcome the preservative then the topping up practice just provides more ‘food’ for the bacteria already within the dispensers’ chamber.
• Heat accelerates bacteria and fungi growth
• Top up dispensers are prone for introducing bacteria
• Built in systems that are not cleaned or replaced regularly
Sealed for hygiene:
A sealed cartridge system is the best way to remove the topping up element and the risk of exponential microbial growth.
Sealed cartridges dramatically reduce the risk of bacterial contamination by removing the topping up process and the need to expose the soap. A higher level of hygiene and reduced risk of congealing means the system and attached dispensers will maintain a higher efficiency/function for longer and require less maintenance. Connecting a new cartridge is also quicker, cleaner and avoids spillages that can occur when decanting soap from one container to another.
This type of system has been recognised within the WELL Standards v2 as being the best system for discouraging bacteria growth. In response, Dolphin designed the DS800 Dolphin Cartridge Foam Soap Multifeed System for installation under counter, behind a hinged mirror or in a service duct/cupboard. With a pending patent (application no. 1314060.3), this product is designed to meet the WELL Standards’ requirements whilst also being easier to maintain than other bulk fill systems.
Find out more information here.
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