Leoni reduces the risk of infection in hospitals with antimicrobial cables

Leoni reduces the risk of infection in hospitals with antimicrobial cables

Nuremberg – Leoni, the leading provider of cables and cable systems to the automotive sector and other industries, is using a new acid-based technology that gives plastic surfaces a germ-killing effect. The use of antimicrobial device housings, cables and cords in hospitals or doctors' surgeries can contribute substantially to increasing the standard of hygiene and minimising the risk of infection. Unwanted gaps in the hygiene chain can thereby be closed.

The plastic surfaces near patients of monitoring devices and their cables can cause infections in hospitals when they are contaminated with germs. This risk can be substantially lowered with the use of antimicrobial cables whose special properties are similar to the principle of the human acid protective layer. Surfaces that are treated with this new technology very quickly display a significant reduction in germs.

The effect is microbiologically verified, with the evidence provided by an accredited laboratory using a recognised measurement method and independent hospital hygiene experts. The test involved the most well-known and most frequently occurring hospital bacteria as well as germs that have developed resistance, applying various incubation periods and concentrations.

A low pH level on plastic surfaces causes pathogens to die

The method that Leoni applies follows the Lewis acid-base theory: it involves acid ions being released on the surface of the cables that lower the pH value on the outer surface of the jacket. This restricts the cell functions of the germs and their separation, so that they ultimately die. This is made possible by permanently incorporating a special metal oxide in variable doses in the plastic matrix of the cable jacket. Even in low concentration a significant germ-killing effect is already evident. The mechanical properties of the cable itself and its handling remain unchanged.

Germ-killing effect despite perspiration and protein

These innovations provide several advantages versus the hitherto common methods. A key benefit is that this acid technology maintains the hygienic effect. By contrast, the established silver and copper method is susceptible to perspiration and protein, meaning that, in normal use, the antimicrobial effect on a treated plastic object is considerably lowered or deactivated.

Another benefit of the new technology is that the pathogens are destroyed not from the inside, but from the outside across the cell envelope; the formation of what are known as biofilms on the cable or the device housing is thereby stemmed, and its surface can be more easily cleaned. Furthermore, the metal oxide that is incorporated in the plastic does not come under the controversial nanotechnology because of its larger grain size.

Leoni has already passed initial tests in accordance with DIN EN ISO 10993 for medical technology and sold antimicrobial cables for patient monitoring systems.