Nakayama : So these are products that use Hydro Ag+ technology!
Sato : Yes, the Hydro Ag+ technology came about around 2014, when we began applying an antibacterial coating to some of our X-ray diagnostic equipment. Applied to a film, it can be used in protective films for LCD panels, and as an antibacterial film that can be affixed to furniture and other building materials, such as the doorstop part you see here.
Nakayama : Speaking of LCD panels, an antibacterial film with the sustained disinfection of Hydro Ag+ would be perfect for smartphone screens, which we not only constantly touch with our hands, but bring close to our mouths when we talk on the phone.
Sato : Yes, it would. Another advantage is that, since the hyper-hydrophilic coating is stain-resistant, it makes it easy to remove oil and fingerprints left behind.
Nakayama : That’s great!
Abe : The product in the blue package here was developed for medical institutions, and makes the technology even easier to use. This is known as an environmental cleaning material, used by hospitals to prevent infection. In accordance with Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare guidelines, it is 80% alcohol. A familiar example might be the wipe used on your skin when you have an injection, which is also 80% alcohol. We sell two types—a simple cloth type for wiping, and a spray type—and both have proven extremely popular with medical institutions.
Nakayama : That’s very useful! How are they actually used in medical institutions?
Abe : Well first, there are medical devices that patients come into contact with, where the product is used to clean parts that patients may touch during an X-ray, for example. Hydro Ag+ is used particularly in areas that can easily become routes for infection, such as waiting rooms and toilets. This is where sustained disinfection is especially important.
Another example that we thought was particularly smart was the stuffed toys you find in a pediatric clinic, a place that, naturally, sees a lot of children. Children are more vulnerable to infection, and they often come in contact with shared toys and other items. Spraying the stuffed toys with Hydro Ag+ makes it possible to continually fight the spread of infection through the power of sustained disinfection.
Nakayama : Stuffed toys! That makes sense. There must be plenty of other places where using Hydro Ag+ would be a good way to fight infection.
Abe : Yes, I’m sure there are. I think many new uses can be discovered as we go beyond the medical setting to expand the power of sustained disinfection to the average household. The product in the green packaging here was developed for household use, and is 60% alcohol. Due to fire regulations, we’ve designed it to be used safely in the home, where there is a likelihood that a naked flame will be present. Just so there’s no misunderstanding, let me add that even at 60% alcohol, it still provides sufficiently effective sterilization, and the antibacterial agent that continues after the alcohol has evaporated contains the same ingredients as the product designed for use in medical institutions, so both the household and the healthcare versions offer the same sustained disinfection effect.
Nakayama : That’s really convenient since it can be used safely in the home and still offers the same level of infection control as medical institutions!
How is the household product used?
Abe : Areas that people touch frequently can become infection routes, so it’s most effective when used on door knobs, toilets, PC keyboards, desks and so on.People also use Hydro Ag+ in situations where there are family members with low resistance to infection, including homes where the elderly or small children are being cared for, to wipe down wheelchairs, handrails and so on. In the toilet, spraying the floor with Hydro Ag+ also has a deodorant effect, and it works well around pet litter boxes, too, for example.We are also currently experimenting with introducing Hydro Ag+ in elementary schools as a model case for fighting the spread of influenza, and are working to validate its effectiveness in that setting. We believe that going forward, we will continue to discover a whole series of other effective uses.
Nakayama : Certainly, as more people use it, more places will be free of infection, and that means greater peace of mind.
Are there plans for the further development of Hydro Ag+?
Abe : We would like to offer other form factors—naturally,of course, an easily portable pocket tissue version, or a compact spray—new products designed to meet a wider range of needs and situations. For example, students studying for their exams could put a compact version in their schoolbags, and by getting in the habit of preventive disinfecting, can better prepare themselves for important exams and other events.
Nakayama : Now that you’ve made sustained disinfection so easy, I’m sure it will become a widespread habit, and not just among children!
Abe : On a larger scale, we really hope to change the culture.
While awareness of hygiene is indeed growing, it’s also true that many people see bacteria and viruses as dirty or dangerous, but don’t really take sufficient action to address them.
The fact is that the keyboards and smartphone screens we gave as examples earlier are actually dirtier than a toilet seat. People touch them every day, but few people disinfect them on a daily basis. With Hydro Ag+, a quick wipe or a spray would be all that is needed to prevent infectious disease.
Nakayama : So even just a simple habit would make it possible to continue fighting the risk of infection with sustained disinfection!
Abe : That’s right. You address the source of infection by attacking the bacteria and viruses themselves. We’d like to make that easy for anyone to do. We are now moving forward with plans to expand Hydro Ag+ overseas.
Nakayama : I imagine there are many countries where infection countermeasures remain inadequate. It would be great if you could make it easy for anyone, anywhere to fight infectious disease!
Abe : All you need to do is simply spray or wipe. We believe that simplicity is very important.Even in Japan, in fact, during major natural disasters, a big problem arises when people finally make it safely to a shelter only to pick up infections after they arrive. There aren’t enough toilets, and no running water. Unable to wash their hands properly, crowds of people still touch the door knobs, hand rails and so on. Given that environment, doctors from the Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control lauded the technology behind Hydro Ag+ as a highly outstanding concept. During a disaster, disinfection is as simple as just a spray, on top of which sustained disinfection also prevents bacteria from breeding. In that respect, I think Hydro Ag+ could contribute to infection prevention during disasters overseas as well. For example, using Hydro Ag+ on beds for the injured during an emergency can be a quick way of providing antibacterial bedding, thus delivering safer treatment.
Nakayama : It sounds like there’s an amazing future ahead, and this technology can really contribute to peoples’ health and safety!
Abe : Fujifilm strongly believes in contributing to society so that people can enjoy more comfortable lives. One way we are doing that is by fighting infectious disease, with the goal of ensuring that illness doesn’t spread in hospitals and that people can be more resistant to illness in their own homes.
An easy-to-use product like Hydro Ag+ has the potential to change our culture. Just as people have gotten into the habit of washing their hands and gargling, we hope to suggest a new habit whereby anyone can prevent infection as a matter of course.
Nakayama : Thank you very much for your time today!