Germs lurk everywhere. Number buttons in the elevator, door knobs, money, keyboards and mobile phones are just a few of the surfaces people touch every day. But, how many people wash their hands each time they touch these surfaces?
Hand washing and its benefits cannot be emphasised enough. It is of such vital importance that leading accreditation bodies like the Joint Commission International specifiy stringent standards and prescribe tools to promote hand hygiene in all healthcare organisations. Hotels, malls, airports, train stations and other places with high traffic are also increasingly concerned about germs being transmitted between people and infections arising due to slack in hand hygiene just as those who handle food and its preparation have to be careful to see that good hand hygiene is maintained at all times.
One effective way to ensure hand hygiene is to avail and use good liquid soaps dispensed automatically as opposed to manually pressed liquid soaps in washrooms at high traffic areas. When no one touches the pump, bacterial transmission is eliminated. This is where the advancement of the automatic soap dispenser has become a revolution in ensuring clean germ-free hands.
An article in the American Journal of Public Health declared in 2000 that ‘the advances of hygiene, such as that of the automatic soap dispenser, can be considered as one of the more silent victories of public health and continues to be an important disease prevention strategy.’ In an automatic soap dispenser, the user’s hands are placed under the nozzle and before the sensor. The activated sensor then activates a pump that dispenses a premeasured amount of soap from the nozzle.
Some dispensers use photo sensor technology composed of two parts – a source of focused light (usually a laser beam) and a light sensor. When the user’s hands are placed in line of the beam of light, the pump mechanism is activated by the disruption that is sensed by the light sensor. The energy for activation of the pump is usually from batteries installed in the system.
Electronic soap dispensers use infrared light sensors. The sensor employs an emitter and a collector. The emitter emits pulses of infrared light while the collector, which is positioned to face in the same direction as the emitter, ‘sits’ dormant waiting to sense the emitted pulses. When hands are present in the path of the emitted light, a portion of the emitted infrared light is bounced back in the direction of the collector which then becomes excited by the light and generates voltage to switch the pump on.