An anti-microbial coating which its developers say can keep surfaces free of coronavirus for months could pave the way for golf clubhouses to reopen.
The Environmental Protection programme, known as Enviroguard, incorporates the antimicrobial barrier that kills the virus on contact and a seal that prevents cross-contamination.
Developed by BioDecon, a York-based decontamination company, it has been undergoing extensive testing on golf flagsticks – with those trials appearing to have been successful.
BioDecon, run by three directors including former professional footballer and keen golfer Andy McMillan, have been in demand during the pandemic.
They’ve been keeping nurseries, schools, pharmaceutical plants and office blocks clear of Covid-19 as the UK battles to stem the tide of infection.
Golf clubs in England have now reopened, with the majority in Wales to follow on Monday, but players have been instructed not to touch the flags, rakes, course furniture, and clubhouses will remain closed.
McMillan believes Enviroguard, and the intensive process BioDecon technicians carry out to clean surfaces before its application, could be a game-changer as clubs look to fully reopen their facilities in the future to bring in vital revenue.
“We use TOMI Steramist technology and utilise Ionised Hydrogren Peroxide, which kills all known pathogens and micro-organisms,” he said.
“It hits all high touch areas and then we wipe down all surfaces with a good quality detergent and a high quality microfibre cloth.
“Take a flagstick. If you think about a competition on a weekend, there are 30 or 40 fourballs going out and every single one is potentially touching that flag, transferring viruses from place to place.
“People are going to be very wary of surface contamination now. But we can steam the pole clean, making sure there is no biofilm remaining, and then coat it with Enviroguard.”
Environmental control expert Mike Rollins, who is working with BioDecon to test the technology, said the issue of flagsticks was one of the more curious enquiries he had been asked to look at.
And he explained the process from steaming to coating and how it protected against cross contamination in testing.
“We applied a dry steam vapour of about 5% by volume and it basically emulsifies any soil that’s on the surface and makes it available for removal,” he said.
“If there are microorganisms on that surface they are basically thermally killed. Sars-Cov-2 (coronavirus) is an enveloped virus, which is actually quite fragile, and so when you hit it with that level of heat, the envelope collapses and it is no longer viable.
“By thermal decontamination, and then a wipe down with a professional microfibre cloth, we are able to remove all of the soil to a very high level. We’re talking about 99.999% removal.”
As for the coating, he added: “Anti-microbial technology has been known for a long time. The chemistry creates a single monolayer onto a surface that covalently bonds to it, which means you have actually changed the surface characteristics. You have got an antimicrobial protective seal on that surface.
“It doesn’t leech out and become weaker over time. It’s a permanent surface modification treatment but, in practical use, it can be abraded and would likely require periodic reapplication.
“We’re just validating the programme at the moment, in terms of the period of time between reapplications of coatings but this product, which is also called Zoono, has a hand formulation that has gone through all of the dermatological testing, so it is approved for use by humans all the way down to a two-year-old child.”
McMillan said using the Zoono hand foam, by keeping a dispenser on course and in the clubhouse and then combining that by coating all possible touch points with Enviroguard – whether that was a flagstick, door handles or a bar surface – gave double protection.
“It’s not sticky,” he added of the coating. “It’s non-toxic. It’s environmentally friendly. We can coat door handles. We can coat the touchscreen. The bar can be coated.
“Anything you think you can touch can be coated and it won’t cause any damage. It’s an opportunity to get clubhouses and the pro shop back open and we want to protect golfers who want to get back out there.”
Visit BioDecon’s website for more details.
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