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Perkins and Will, Healthy Building Network advise against the use of antimicrobial building products

Even during a pandemic, antimicrobial  building products may do more harm than good.

June 02, 2020 |
Antimicrobial building products graphic

Courtesy Perkins and Will

According to Perkins and Will and the nonprofit Healthy Building Network, building products with antimicrobial treatments are not proved to be a safe or effective means of controlling the spread of COVID-19.

The two organizations issued a statement reaffirming the conclusion of their March 2017 white paper on antimicrobial building products: Antimicrobial additives have not been proven to have the health benefits they promote, and alternatives should be sought wherever possible. No scientific evidence exists that demonstrates any health benefits from antimicrobial additives in building products and materials. “There is no evidence that the addition of antimicrobials to building products lowers the rate of infection or that they lead to a healthier population,” said Teresa McGrath, HBN Chief Research Officer and Toxicologist. These products include textile, furnishings, flooring, tiles, and other surfaces and interior finishes.

It is quite the contrary, in fact, as evidence suggests that with repeated human exposure, antimicrobials can inadvertently contribute to the formation of “super bugs” that are resistant to medical treatment. Antimicrobial additives have also been shown to leach out of materials during use and enter drains and water treatment facilities. Some antimicrobials, such as nano silver, are considered toxic to humans and entire aquatic ecosystems. Another issue with antimicrobial products is that they can create a false sense of security, which may lead to a reduced role of proper cleaning and less-diligent facility maintenance.

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