In an October 13 memo, the healthcare giant Kasier Permanente prohibited its design teams from specifying fabric, furniture or finishes with any chemicals from a list of 13 antimicrobials that HBN researchers found are commonly used in building products. Kaiser cited research from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that concludes that there is no evidence that antimicrobials prevent disease. In a recent Health Facilities Management interview John Kouletsis, vice president for facilities planning and design at Kaiser Permanente, indicated that the CDC view is shared by the infection prevention community in Kaiser: “They said with a pretty loud voice that these additional chemicals do not provide the layer of protection that they claim, but proper terminal cleaning is the most effective means.”

This builds on Kaiser’s long history of aligning its purchasing and building policies to avoid hazardous antimicrobials, flame retardants, and many other chemicals of concern.  

UPDATE: In January 2016, Kaiser expanded the prohibition to include 2 more substances (quaternary compounds, and 4,4 dimethyloxazolidine) and to cover building components in general such as acoustical ceiling tiles, grout, and resilient flooring.

Tom Lent is the Policy Director for the Healthy Building Network.