The Young Scientists Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia (YSN-ASM) Science Café is a programme that aims to bring science to the public. Viewing its success in the Central Region of Peninsular Malaysia, the programme has since spread its wings to the southern region with the Science Café Johor. Science Café Johor is hosted via Zoom by Dr Jaysuman Pusppanathan and broadcasted via Facebook Live. This episode featured ChM Dr Shahrul Nizam Ahmad from the School of Chemistry and Environment, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).
There is a plethora of hand sanitisers in the market nowadays. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the rise of small and medium enterprises joining more established brands to produce hand sanitisers to meet market demands and bite off some of the proverbial cake of profit. However, the lack of adherence information on what makes a good and effective hand sanitiser and the irresponsibility of some manufacturers that prey on unsuspecting customers by selling ineffective products necessitates the production of this Science Café session.
Hand sanitisers are portable liquid or gel products that are used to inactivate or kill microorganisms on your hands in the absence of soap and water. These products are alcohol-based, ethanol or isopropanol being the most popular main ingredient. To be effective, hand sanitisers need to have at least 60 percent alcohol content. There are also hand sanitisers that use antimicrobial agents such as benzalkonium chloride or benzethonium chloride in lieu of alcohol. However, these are much less effective compared to alcohol-based sanitisers.
According to Dr Shahrul, the formulation of hand sanitisers must follow the guidelines given by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A study was carried out on the inactivation of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 by WHO-recommended hand rub formulations and alcohols. It was found that using a hand sanitiser for at least 30 seconds can effectively deactivate the novel coronavirus.