Earlier this week, the World Health Organization issued a warning that superbugs—drug-resistant bacteria and pathogens—are one of the most dangerous and imminent threats to people. The cause? Overuse and abuse of antibiotics and antimicrobials. Bacteria and germs make us sick, so the prevailing practice has been to kill them—but that's only making us more vulnerable to superbugs. Now, the design industry is chiming in about how buildings contribute to the problem and what can be done about it.
The architecture firm Perkins+Will and the Healthy Building Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to removing hazardous chemicals from building materials, recently published a white paper that examines the impact and consequences of products marketed as antimicrobial, from countertops to door handles.
"Building products incorporating antimicrobial additives are becoming increasingly prevalent," the report states. "No evidence yet exists to demonstrate that products intended for use in interior spaces that incorporate antimicrobial additives actually result in healthier populations."