Life Cycle Inventory Analysis of Medical Textiles and Their Role in Prevention of Nosocomial Infections

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Title: Life Cycle Inventory Analysis of Medical Textiles and Their Role in Prevention of Nosocomial Infections
Author: Ponder, Celia Steward
Advisors: Jan Genzer, Committee Member
Marian McCord, Committee Member
Stephen Michielsen, Committee Member
Christine Grant, Committee Chair
Abstract: Biocidal finishes grafted onto medical textiles are a potential technology to reduce nosocomial infection transmission. But is the application and use of biocidal finishes worth the environmental cost? Life cycle inventories (LCI) are a tool to show the resources used and emissions generated over the life cycle of a product. In this research, life cycle inventories are utilized in the design of a reusable medical garment with a biocidal finish to: assess options for the biocidal chemical, compare the reusable garment with a disposable garment, and assess the use of a biocidal finish in a hospital setting. The cradle-to-gate life cycle inventories of two biocidal halamines – 3-allyl-5,5-dimethyl hydantoin (ADMH) and dimethylol-5,5-dimethyl hydantoin (DMDMH) – are compared to allow the manufacturer to select the chemical that consumes less energy and raw materials and generates fewer emissions. The reusable garment is then compared with a disposable gown of similar use to determine, cradle-to-use, which has the better environmental performance. Life cycle inventory analysis is also used to determine the resources and emissions saved by the hypothetical use of a biocidal patient gown and the subsequent reduction in nosocomial infections. This is a novel area for LCI, as no LCI has been studied for treating an infection previously. When a patient contracts an infection while in the hospital, additional materials are used to test the patient, to provide contact isolation, and to treat the patient. Inventories were analyzed for each phase of this treatment using MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) as the nosocomial infection contracted and treated. In this research study, the drug therapy consists of vancomycin hydrochloride. While previous life cycle inventory studies have determined that solvent usage is the largest user of resources for pharmaceutical production, the current study shows that fermentation is actually the largest consumer of raw materials and energy in the cradle-to-gate (CTG) manufacture of vancomycin hydrochloride. Of the phases in infection treatment studied, contact isolation utilizes the most raw material and energy resources and generates the most emissions due to the use of disposable gowns and gloves. Finally, the LCI for treating an infection was compared with the LCI for using the biocidal finish. If the usage of the biocidal patient gown reduces the nosocomial infection rate more than 2%, the resulting reduction in raw material consumption, energy consumption, and emissions generated is enough to overcome that of using a biocidal garment. In addition, the impact of dyeing processes on the cradle-to-gate inventory of a textile product is investigated using carpet as a case study. Using a life cycle approach, gate-to-gate inventories for five nylon coloring processes are performed and compared to the cradle-to-gate life cycle inventory of the carpet. This analysis shows that dyeing can be a large contributor to the carpet cradle-to-gate energy usage.
Date: 2009-12-07
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Chemical Engineering

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