Surfaces and the spread of infection in homes – new research by IFH

Post Author: HSI

August 10, 2021
A new report, “Developing and promoting home and everyday life hygiene to meet 21st Century needs; What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?” published in July 2021 by the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) addresses the spread of infections in our homes and everyday lives.

The IFH paper outlines a need for a risk management approach to hygiene that includes surfaces as a key issue. The authors recognize the “touching surfaces frequently touched by other people” as one of the key 9 moments in daily activities where harmful microbes are likely to be spread. Surfaces associated with the other key moments, such as food handling, are also noted to play a large role in the risk of microbial spread.

The authors also address the role of surfaces in the spread of COVID-19. An excerpt:

For COVID-19, airborne spread is likely the main driver, although opinions differ on the relative importance of aerosols which can travel a considerable distance and larger respiratory droplets where close contact is required. Opinion also differs about risks from hand contact with surfaces relative to airborne routes, some concluding that surface spread is negligible. Whilst this might be so in public spaces, particularly outdoors, where surfaces are rarely touched, it does not apply in home settings (thought to be the highest risk setting for transmission) where there are frequent opportunities to touch surfaces recently touched by others.

HSI board member Dr. Syed Sattar was one of the contributing authors of the IFH report. Dr. Sattar is also the presenter for HSI’s on-demand webinar addressing high-touch surfaces: “Survival and Inactivation of Viruses on High-Touch Environmental Surfaces: Relevance to Countering the Spread of SARS-CoV-2.” Learn more about the webinar here.

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