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Coating for hospital fabrics and activewear kills COVID and E. coli

Swatches | April 1, 2022 | By:

Coated material undergoing antimicrobial testing. Photo: University of British Columbia by Taylor Wright

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a coating for almost any fabric that decreases the chances of spreading bacteria and viruses. Their work was highlighted in a study published in the January issue of American Chemical Society Applied Materials & Interfaces. The study authors say the inexpensive, non-toxic coating decreases the infectivity of the virus that causes COVID-19 by up to 90 percent.

“When you’re walking into a hospital, you want to know that pillow you’re putting your head onto is clean,” says lead author Taylor Wright, a doctoral student in the department of chemistry. “This coating could take a little bit of the worry off frontline workers to have personal protection equipment with antimicrobial properties.”

The coating can be used on almost any fabric, including cotton, polyester, denim and silk.

Researchers soaked fabric in a solution of a bacteria-killing polymer that contains a molecule that releases sterilizing forms of oxygen when light shines on it. They then used an ultraviolet light to turn this solution into a solid, fixing the coating on the fabric. “This coating has both passive and active antimicrobial properties, killing microbes immediately upon contact, which is then amped up when sunlight hits the cloth,” says senior author Dr. Michael Wolf.

The researchers say that the solution may one day be available to consumers who can spray the solution on fabric themselves.

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