Geography, Earth and environment at Brighton

Mineral better than bleach at fighting disease-causing microorganisms

University of Brighton scientists have discovered that a mineral is more efficient than chemicals in fighting the spread of diseases during humanitarian emergencies.
27 July 2018

They compared hydrated lime-based treatments of human excreta against more traditional chorine-based chemicals such as bleach and found that lime provided greater treatment efficacy. It is hoped the findings will lead to a reduction in the spread of diseases, particularly among patients and healthcare workers at Ebola and cholera treatment centres.

The research, led by Dr Diogo Trajano Gomes Da Silva, Research Fellow in the university’s School of Environment & Technology, was funded by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty.

Dr Da Silva said: “Approaches for the safe handling, containment and removal of excreta within such centres are needed to minimise the likelihood of onward disease transmission.
“Hydrated lime suspensions were more effective at safely containing viruses and bacteria present within the human excreta matrices, compared with the various chlorine solutions tested.

“These findings provide a practical evidence-base, with which to inform safe handling and containment of human waste and should ensure more effective health protection in future emergency settings.”

The research has been published by the U.S.-based scientific journal PLOSONE.
Dr Da Silva worked with Dr James Ebdon, Dr Edgard Dias and the late Professor Huw Taylor on the research.


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Stephanie Thomson • July 27, 2018

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