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  • LCD TV Waste May Prevent Infections
Jun 2010
YORK, England, June 23, 2010 — The fastest-growing waste in the EU could soon be helping to combat hospital infections, according to scientists at the University of York in England.

The latest developments from the York Green Chemistry Center of Excellence and the York Liquid Crystal Group were presented yesterday by Dr. Andrew Hunt during the 14th annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference held in Washington, DC. 

Researchers in the university’s department of chemistry have discovered a way of transforming the chemical compound polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA), a key element of television sets with liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, into an antimicrobial substance that destroys infections such as Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

The team earlier had found a method of recovering PVA from television screens and transforming it into a substance that, because of its compatibility with the human body, could be suitable for use in tissue scaffolds that help parts of the body regenerate. It also could be used in pills and dressings that are designed to deliver drugs to particular parts of the body.

“The influence of LCDs on modern society is dramatic. It is estimated that 2.5 billion LCDs are approaching the end of their life, and they are the fastest-growing waste in the European Union,"said Hunt. “But we can add significant value to this waste. By heating, then cooling, the PVA and then dehydrating it with ethanol, we can produce a high-surface-area mesoporous material that has great potential for use in biomedicine. Now we have gone a step further by enhancing its antimicrobial properties through the addition of silver nanoparticles, with the result being that it can destroy bacterial infections such as E. coli. Potentially, it could be used in hospital cleaning products to help to reduce infections.”

The project’s next steps will be to test the PVA-based substance against commercial compounds to determine relative effectiveness and to secure approval from regulatory agencies regarding the suitability of silver nanoparticles for human health applications.

The research is a development from a long-term project funded by the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board.

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