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PUBLIC TOILET FORUM: We have mail
I was interested to read the article in Cleanzine on a proposed Toilet Hygiene Rating Scheme, and to follow the subsequent correspondence on the matter. The European Tissue Symposium (ETS) sees this as an interesting initiative.
A certified scheme, with a certificate or badge that is recognised by owners and operators as well as the general public, could offer important guidance as to the hygiene levels required to maintain optimal health & safety - and, of course, it is particularly timely in these times of pandemic.
ETS is enthusiastic to get involved and join any committee for establishing criteria etc as appropriate. We also support extending the scheme to include all away-from-home washrooms. Once the rating scheme is in place, we would work to promote its uptake and endorsement by both trade and consumer customers.
From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, health authorities around the world have placed particular emphasis on the importance of correct hand washing and drying in preventing the spread of infection. In the face of the pandemic, ordinary citizens are being told to adopt hand hygiene standards that were previously only seen in hospitals and healthcare settings - and public washrooms are having to rise to the occasion.
As I am sure you are aware, paper towels are the recommended choice for hand drying in hospitals. German hospitals mandate paper due to its superior hygiene properties. Likewise, the French Society of Hospital Hygiene, SF2H, hand hygiene guidance recommends single use paper towels as the most effective way to dry hands and minimise the spread of infection following a visit to the washroom. NHS Scotland also stipulates the use of paper as the method of hand drying in healthcare settings.
Promoting optimal hand hygiene in minimising the spread of infection has been the focus of ETS's work for many years. We have a solid body of science detailing the most successful approaches in limiting environmental contamination and the spread of microorganisms in washrooms. We are also in regular contact with leading microbiologists including Professor Mark Wilcox of Leeds University and Leeds Teaching Hospitals; Keith Redway Emeritus Fellow of the University of Westminster; Professor Marc Van Ranst of KU Leuven; Professor Frédéric Barbut of the Infection Control Unit at Hospital Saint-Antoine (AP-HP), Paris, Professor Walter Popp of the 'European network to promote infection prevention for patient safety' (EUNETIPS) and vice-president of DGKH & Professor Angel Asensio of the University Hospital Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda, Spain.
We would be delighted to share with you some of the studies that these experts have undertaken in this area. Indeed, in order to lend independent credibility to the scheme, it may be an idea to establish an advisory panel of academics and professionals in compiling the rating and setting optimal criteria for every element of a washroom facility.
Congratulations once again on a very promising initiative. I look forward to hearing from you and exploring how ETS might be able to get involved.
Fanis Papakostas, chairman, European Tissue Symposium
6th August 2020