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New Paint Kills Hospital Pathogens

Sherwin-Williams says its latest product is a “game-changing advancement” in preventing hospital-acquired infections.

Image via Flickr user Phalinn Ooi

Maintaining a controlled, sterile environment in hospitals is vital for both routine and life-saving medical care. One way of fighting hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) is to apply robust paint or epoxy layers on walls and floors that can be easily and repeatedly cleaned to keep bacteria out.

In addition to preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses, paints used in healthcare facilities have low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) so that patients aren’t breathing in harmful chemical compounds. But paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams just upped the ante with Paint Shield, a new paint created in collaboration with microbiologists that kills more than 99.9 percent of “Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), MRSA, E. coli, VRE, and Enterobacter aerogens after two hours of exposure on a painted surface.”

Sherwin-Williams claims that the EPA-approved paint doesn’t just inhibit growth of pathogens, but kills them. If the paint works as advertised, then this would go a long way in combatting HAIs, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports as being one of the top 10 leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. Approximately 1 in 25 American patients will contract at least one HAI during hospital care, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2011.

“Paint Shield is one of the most significant technological breakthroughs in our nearly 150-year history of innovation,” Chris Connor, chairman and chief executive of Sherwin-Williams, said when announcing the product launch. “By killing infectious pathogens on painted surfaces, Paint Shield is a game-changing advancement in coatings technology.”

“Continued progress in combating HAIs will require a broad array of measures, including passive methods that are less dependent on human intervention,” added Steve Revnew, senior vice president of product innovation at Sherwin-Williams. “By continuing to kill MRSA and other bacteria, even after repeated contamination, Paint Shield offers hospitals and other facilities an important new tool to help in the fight against the spread of HAIs.”

While Sherwin-Williams has tested Paint Shield in the lab, and earned EPA approval, the paint still needs real-world trials.

“Obviously hospital epidemiologists are interested in any way to decrease bacterial contamination in that person’s room as long as it’s cost effective,” Dr. Anthony Harris, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland, told ABC Radio. “These types of inventions are desperately needed … to prevent transmission [of resistant bacteria] ... [but they] need to be tested in real-world settings before widespread adoption.”

Sherwin-Williams will begin offering Paint Shield in 590 colors in the first quarter of 2016.

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