Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Three recently published scientific studies report on potential human health risks from refillable bulk soap dispenser contamination that can be avoided. Driven by a commitment to advance social well-being, GOJO Industries is working to change the industry by educating against the use of refillable bulk soap dispensers.
Refillable bulk soap dispensers require that soap is poured into an open reservoir and are typically refilled within the restroom. These dispensers are open to the environment and are rarely cleaned, leading to exposure to fecal contamination within the public restroom.
Initial findings from a study published in the March 2011 edition of the Journal of Environmental Health reveal that 25 percent of public bulk soap dispensers are contaminated by unsafe levels of bacteria and thus are detrimental to social well-being. A follow-up study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology released in May 2011, reports handwashing with soap from these dispensers can increase disease-causing bacteria on hands. This study concludes hands can carry over 25 times more bacteria after washing with contaminated soap than before washing, and bacteria left on hands can be transferred to surfaces.
The most recent study published in the January 2012 issue of Biofouling, reveals that biofilms grow in refillable bulk soap dispensers, causing recontamination even after cleaning with bleach. The study suggests avoiding recontamination – and contribute to social well-being – by replacing refillable bulk dispensers with sealed refill systems.
The JEH study was conducted by Dr. Charles P. Gerba and colleagues from the University of Arizona. The AEM study was conducted by scientists from GOJO, BioScience Laboratories in Bozeman, Mont., and the University of Arizona. The Biofouling study was conducted by scientists from the Center for Biofilm Engineer at Montana State University and GOJO.
“Refillable bulk soap is generally chosen on price alone, but human health risks that can result from contaminated soap are very real problems that work against a facility’s efforts to create a healthy environment,” said Carrie Zapka, GOJO microbiologist. “The potential risks from refillable bulk soap contamination can be avoided with recyclable sealed refills designed to prevent contamination, which is consistent with social well-being objectives. In addition, it’s noteworthy that the Centers for Disease Control recommend against topping off soap in bulk hand hygiene dispensers.”
Nicole Koharik, global sustainability marketing director, said GOJO sealed refill systems align social and environmental considerations.
“Sealed systems are consistent with the social well-being practice of promoting human health and the environmental practice of reducing waste through recycling. Sealed-refill systems are an example of how social and environmental factors can mesh,” she said. “People sometimes assume reusing is more sustainable, but as the studies revealed, reuse can introduce human health risks. GOJO® SANITARY SEALED™ refills are safer and more sustainable than bulk soap dispensers.”