Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Technologies to decontaminate bacterial biofilm on hospital surfaces A potential new role for cold plasma.pdf (723.77 kB)

Technologies to decontaminate bacterial biofilm on hospital surfaces: a potential new role for cold plasma?

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-07, 15:34 authored by Muireann Fallon, Sarah Kennedy, Stephen Daniels, Hilary HumphreysHilary Humphreys

Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) are a major challenge and the near patient surface is important in harbouring causes such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridioides difficile. Current approaches to decontamination are sub-optimal and many studies have demonstrated that microbial causes of HCAIs may persist with onward transmission. This may be due to the capacity of these microbes to survive in biofilms on surfaces. New technologies to enhance hospital decontamination may have a role in addressing this challenge. We have reviewed current technologies such as UV light and hydrogen peroxide and also assessed the potential use of cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAPP) in surface decontamination. The antimicrobial mechanisms of CAPP are not fully understood but the production of reactive oxygen and other species is believed to be important. CAPP systems have been shown to partially or completely remove a variety of biofilms including those caused by Candida albicans, and multi-drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA. There are some studies that suggest promise for CAPP in the challenge of surface decontamination in the healthcare setting. However, further work is required to define better the mechanism of action. We need to know what surfaces are most amenable to treatment, how microbial components and the maturity of biofilms may affect successful treatment, and how would CAPP be used in the clinical setting.


Strategic Academic Recruitment Scholar (StAR) funded by the RCSI

Enterprise Ireland grant, CF2015/56701A

Health Research Board grant, HRA-DI-2015-1141



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Fallon M, Kennedy S, Daniels S, Humphreys H. Technologies to decontaminate bacterial biofilm on hospital surfaces: a potential new role for cold plasma? J Med Microbiol. 2022;71(10).

Publication Date

6 October 2022

PubMed ID



  • Clinical Microbiology
  • Beaumont Hospital


Microbiology Society


  • Published Version (Version of Record)