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History of Disinfection

For hundreds of years we sought ways to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Since the turn of the 20th Century, more complex disinfectant technologies have been engineered, many of which are still used today. These chemistries we have trusted for decades to disinfect are considered ‘legacy’ disinfectants; however, though some of these have been proven to be effective at killing pathogens, they often carry a toll on users, surfaces, and the environment. Learn about the history of disinfection, and when Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) made history by becoming the next generation disinfectant technology—achieving the perfect balance between efficacy and safety.

For hundreds of years we sought ways to prevent the spread of infectious disease. Since the turn of the 20th Century, more complex disinfectant technologies have been engineered, many of which are still used today. These chemistries we have trusted for decades to disinfect are considered ‘legacy’ disinfectants; however, though some of these have been proven to be effective at killing pathogens, they often carry a toll on users, surfaces, and the environment. Learn about the history of disinfection, and when Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) made history by becoming the next generation disinfectant technology—achieving the perfect balance between efficacy and safety.


1800’s
Phenols were introduced as the first surface disinfectant.

Phenols were introduced as the first surface disinfectant.


1920's
Chlorine Oxidizers are made commercially available to kill pathogens but are inactivated by organic soil rendering them ineffective. Chlorine Oxidizers such as Bleach can also irritate the skin and eyes, and may require special ventilation. Use of bleach requires pre-cleaning with detergents prior to disinfection and is also corrosive to many surfaces.

Chlorine Oxidizers are made commercially available to kill pathogens but are inactivated by organic soil rendering them ineffective. Chlorine Oxidizers such as Bleach can also irritate the skin and eyes, and may require special ventilation. Use of bleach requires pre-cleaning with detergents prior to disinfection and is also corrosive to many surfaces.


1950's
Alcohols such as Isopropyl and Ethanol continue to be used for surface disinfection. Alcohol evaporates very rapidly and is therefore not necessarily effective against the targeted pathogens. As they are flammable, restrictions for use and handling are required. Alcohols also require that surfaces be pre-cleaned with detergents prior to disinfection.

Alcohols such as Isopropyl and Ethanol continue to be used for surface disinfection. Alcohol evaporates very rapidly and is therefore not necessarily effective against the targeted pathogens. As they are flammable, restrictions for use and handling are required. Alcohols also require that surfaces be pre-cleaned with detergents prior to disinfection.


1960's
Antibiotic resistant microbes start to appear. Questions arise as to their resistance to antimicrobials. Aldehydes such as glutaraldehyde for medical device disinfection are introduced. Gluteraldehydes require special ventilation and have revealed wide ranging occupational health risks. Triclosan appears in hand washing products, and has now been implicated in both antibiotic resistance development as well as causing hormone disruption.

Antibiotic resistant microbes start to appear. Questions arise as to their resistance to antimicrobials. Aldehydes such as glutaraldehyde for medical device disinfection are introduced. Gluteraldehydes require special ventilation and have revealed wide ranging occupational health risks. Triclosan appears in hand washing products, and has now been implicated in both antibiotic resistance development as well as causing hormone disruption.


1970's
Quaternary Ammonia compounds are introduced; however, they became known to accumulate in the environment, have broad spectrum disinfection challenges, and have long disinfection contact times (the amount of time a disinfectant needs contact with a given surface to kill all pathogens found there).

Quaternary Ammonia compounds are introduced; however, they became known to accumulate in the environment, have broad spectrum disinfection challenges, and have long disinfection contact times (the amount of time a disinfectant needs contact with a given surface to kill all pathogens found there).


1980's
Antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus appears. Health risks working with phenols are identified and restrictions for use implemented.

Antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus appears. Health risks working with phenols are identified and restrictions for use implemented.


1990's
New strains of antibiotic resistant pathogens continue to appear. Special handling requirements for Glutaraldehyde implemented.

New strains of antibiotic resistant pathogens continue to appear. Special handling requirements for Glutaraldehyde implemented.


2000's
Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP®) is launched, representing the most significant disinfectant advance in over a century: powerful on pathogens but safer for users. The American FDA bans Triclosan from hand soaps and body washes. Phenols are restricted for use around children and banned in many countries due to a poor safety profile.

Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP®) is launched, representing the most significant disinfectant advance in over a century: powerful on pathogens but safer for users. The American FDA bans Triclosan from hand soaps and body washes. Phenols are restricted for use around children and banned in many countries due to a poor safety profile.


2010's
Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide formulated disinfectants appear in over 200 human and animal health products and are available across the globe in 60+ countries. In 2017, AHP® was approved for use on the International Space Station.

Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide formulated disinfectants appear in over 200 human and animal health products and are available across the globe in 60+ countries. In 2017, AHP® was approved for use on the International Space Station.


2020's
Virox Technologies continues developing innovative disinfecting formulations to combat germs and the spread of infection. Stay tuned!

Virox Technologies continues developing innovative disinfecting formulations to combat germs and the spread of infection. Stay tuned!