Definition of scientifically reliable standards and strict laboratory tests as the foundation to antibacterial Bios porcelain stoneware development.
The design, testing, assessment and production of such an innovative product as Bios required the deployment of a research process capable of making Casalgrande Padana’s knowledge, technology advancement and industrial know-how osmotic and synergic with the undisputed competence of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Department of Biomedical Science. The joint effort should be construed also as the ability to enhance the excellence of a production district which qualifies and ranks among the best in the global market in terms of architectural ceramics innovation and quality. Casalgrande Padana promotes absolute state-of-the-art performance for its anti-bacterial tiles; it should be born in mind that nowadays, given the utter lack of such products in the market, there is no specific reference standard to certify them, as in the case, instead, of water, air, specific fabrics and other products. Given the lack of references or standard analysis methods, in order to support Bios research and development and test and certify its specific anti-bacterial performance it was necessary to devise ad hoc analysis based on well proven procedures. Scientific research stands out among any other activity thanks to the research method it employs which is, basically, a systematic analysis: to observe and test phenomena, see how they arrange and try to interpret them. A key role was played thanks to the mentioned collaboration of Casalgrande Padana with the Department of biomedical Science of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, a centre for advanced biology and molecular medicine research. As explained by Dr. Carla Sabia, biologist and research collaborator of the team set up by the university on anti-bacterial ceramics: “the first step was to devise an accurate and reliable analysis method, which we designed purposefully by benchmarking the experiences gathered over our long-lived research and documentation activities in the same field with other products and materials”.
It is worth highlighting how the tests run by microbiologists have focused specifically on anti-bacterial activity with regard to four specific strains, namely, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.
They reason may be traced back to these bacteria being the main trigger of the infections developing in the hospital setting. “We have taken them as standard indicators - adds Carla Stabia - since they are the most aggressive ones and in some cases they are incredibly resilient also to antibiotics”. Their threat led the researchers to introduce another criterion in the definition of anti-bacterial action of a ceramic product, that is, in order to be defined as such, an anti-bacterial ceramic product has to be able to reduce by over 90% the four most common strains. 100% bacteria removal cannot be practically guaranteed, the effectiveness threshold was therefore set at over 90% because it is only at that level that a scientifically significant bacteria reduction may be detected. Carla Sabia gives us a deeper insight: “If we take a hypothetical product with 30% anti-bacterial power we must think that the order of magnitude of the bacteria may be estimated to be approximately 105 cfu (colony forming unit), an enormous amount. A product of such kind does not provide a solution to the problem. If we consider a product with performance higher than 90% or as much as 99.9% as the levels detected for Bios - the scope is reduced to a range comprised between only 10 to not even one hundred cfu”.
As a scientific condition, the nearly complete bacterial removal is therefore crucial for the product to be effective. To give a very obvious explanation, if a product is by 30% anti-bacterial, it means that it is not so by 70%. If we consider the abovementioned cfu exponential multipliers, it is much likely to detect a bacterial attack rather than the guaranteed opposite. In terms of anti-bacterial action, laboratory tests proved that Bios, as opposed to other products, is effective in any environmental condition, that is, in lack or presence of light, water, etc.
It is a known fact that certain products work partially are effective only when exposed to light, such as those containing titanium dioxide as active principle. As far as laboratory evidence on Bios are concerned, Dr. Sabia concludes, things are completely different and again: “This product does not need to be activated. Hence it works both in the light and darkness. And there's more; when exposed to humidity, tests have proven that it increases its anti-bacterial properties remarkably”.
This is a significant achievement, which qualifies Bios as an excellent finish solution for applications that go beyond hospital and healthcare facility construction: to mention but a few, public and private swimming pools, bathrooms, kitchens and restaurants, as well as the food industry and many others. In all the above hygiene and anti-bacterial action are paramount when combined with a comprehensive range of finishes, sizes and colours, to provide solid quality architecture that transcends mere appearance.