Superbug-resistant toilets could save lives

A glaze will be baked on surfaces to kill harmful bacteria such as MRSA.  Image: GETTY IMAGES

A glaze will be baked on surfaces to kill harmful bacteria such as MRSA.  Image: GETTY IMAGES

Article by Aaron Rogan / May 23 2017, The Times

Toilets that kill germs could be a reality by the end of the year, according to an Irish company working to stop the spread of superbugs.

A groundbreaking agent will be baked on surfaces to kill harmful bacteria and micro-organisms such as MRSA, which is antibiotic resistant, and E. coli.

John Browne, the founder of Kastus, which is based in the Dublin Institute of Technology’s Grangegorman campus, said that the company was working with multinationals who made ceramics and sanitary products.

“There has been an unbelievable response from this industry and I firmly believe that superbug-free toilets and bathrooms are going to be the next big thing,” Mr Browne said. “I have no doubt that by the end of the year we will see superbug-resistant toilets coming onto the market.”

Kastus’s water-based solution can be applied to surfaces during the production process, rendering the surface 99.9 per cent resistant to superbugs.

Mr. Browne said entire rooms and units in hospital could potentially be built using the material, which would be a significant step in stopping the spread of such bacteria and diseases. “Thorough deep cleans of areas such as intensive care unit rooms are periodically carried out in hospitals to rid them of bacteria. However, bacteria starts to come back into that room within 24 hours. If you had a bathroom constructed using superbug-resistant materials, the surfaces themselves would be continuously killing the bacteria,” Mr Browne said.

“Toilets, sinks, floor and wall tiles, shower spaces, bathrooms and wet rooms, as well as all the taps and faucets — all of these can be treated with our antimicrobial solution, which means that you could have rooms which would be completely superbug resistant and in which no bacteria or bugs could survive.”

Mr Browne said it could also be used in other public buildings and hotels that had been affected by superbugs. He said that in future the agent could be baked into smartphones and other consumer devices.

All 193 UN member states pledged last year to act against the misuse of antibiotics.

George Osborne, the former British chancellor, warned last year that superbugs could become deadlier than cancer and were on course to kill 10 million people a year by 2050. He said that drug-resistant bacteria could escalate into a global crisis costing £70 trillion.

At least 50 different strains of MRSA have been identified in Irish hospitals in the past 14 years as the bug has mutated and become resistant to more drugs.