Static electric fields as a mediator of hospital infection

JE Allen, JJ Close, DL Henshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Static electric charge at the surface of nurses’ plastic aprons was examined as a possible contributor to hospital infections in a bone marrow transplant ward. Transplant patients undergo high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy which compromises the immune system, rendering these patients highly susceptible to infecting organisms. Results of this pilot study showed that the velocity of a bacterium in air close to the apron surface was sufficient for swift attraction onto the surface. In addition, an electric field may be induced around the patient by the presence of the plastic apron, attracting airborne bacteria directly onto the patient. Tests showed that the polyethylene plastic aprons attracted about 83% more bacteria onto their surfaces during wear, compared with only 17% more acquired by aluminium foil aprons. We suggest that these results implicate static charge on aprons as a mediator of hospital infection.
Translated title of the contributionStatic electric fields as a mediator of hospital infection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49 - 52
Number of pages4
JournalIndoor and Built Environment
Volume15 (1)
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Sage

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