Continuous Dry Hydrogen Reduces Privacy Curtain Contamination

By Lisa Rapaport

July 01, 2021

(Reuters Health) - Continuous exposure of privacy curtains to dry hydrogen peroxide can reduce microbial load by more than 99% in one day and maintain significant reductions over 28 days, a new study suggests.

Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of dry hydrogen peroxide for decontaminating privacy curtains on inpatient units at one hospital. The dry hydrogen peroxide units were installed in HVAC units at the diffuser level specified by the manufacturer and run continuously throughout the 28-day study period.

At baseline, researchers collected surface and air microbial samples from 45 privacy curtains. The mean baseline colony forming unit (CFU) data indicated a CFU count of 3.595 million.

After one day of continuous dry hydrogen peroxide, mean CFU dropped by 99.47% to 19,016. By day seven, mean CFU was 51,997, 98.55% below baseline levels. And by day 28, mean CFU was 122,469, 96.59% below baseline levels.

None of the privacy curtains were changed during the study period.

"With soft surfaces, like curtains, there is not an easy, cost efficient way to disinfect without the burdensome removal and laundering for each curtain," said lead study author Dr. Jennifer Sanguinet, director of infection prevention and control at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Dry hydrogen peroxide works to clean both the air and surfaces it comes into contact with, therefore continuously working throughout the occupied room," Dr. Sanguinet said by email.

Because privacy curtains are often changed infrequently, dry hydrogen peroxide may provide a way to limit contamination between curtain changes, Dr. Sanguinet said.

"Dry hydrogen peroxide can be used as an adjunct to the normal cleaning services to enhance the destruction of microbes that are continuously reintroduced by normal exposure without disrupting patients or staff daily schedules," Dr. Sanguinet added.

Many facilities don't change privacy curtains more than once every three to six months, the authors note in the American Journal of Infection Control.

One limitation of the study is that it was done at a single center and may not represent results that would be obtained elsewhere. Another is that it was too brief to determine whether dry hydrogen peroxide might be effective longer than 28 days.

Beyond this, some previous research has found dry hydrogen peroxide ineffective against multi-drug resistant organisms, said Shik Luk, a consultant microbiologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong who wasn't involved in the study.

The study also did not examine several potential confounding factors such as how long the curtains were used before baseline sampling, whether the beds associated with curtains were occupied by patients during the study, and the exact dimension of the room where the curtains were sampled, Luk said by email.

"Before putting into clinical use, I think the study should be repeated for testing the efficacy of dry hydrogen peroxide against multi-drug resistant organisms present on in-use privacy curtains," Luk said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Infection Control, online June 11, 2021.