Microbes can grow and thrive in many industrial settings, causing serious safety hazards to workers. Antimicrobials are used in day-to-day operations and processes to ensure worker safety.
Pulp and Paper
The pulp and paper industry is an example of an industry that uses biocides to protect its workers. The pulp and paper industry consists of hundreds of manufacturers, ranging from large global companies to small, individually‐owned, specialty paper producers. The goods produced include linerboard, corrugated boxboard, building products, paper bags, tissues and toweling, printing and writing paper, newsprint, bleached board, magazine stock, and literally hundreds of specialty papers. Some paper grades are even used in electronic circuit boards, furniture, absorbent materials, and automobile parts. The inputs for pulp and papermaking offer ideal growth media for microorganisms, and biocides are essential as both material preservatives and in treating the massive volumes of water involved in pulp production and papermaking.
The cellulosic material used in paper production is an ideal food source for microorganisms, and the high heats employed in the process offer ideal conditions for them to thrive. Bacterial slime growth is a significant problem in every mill, and must be controlled to protect the massive capital investments required to construct a mill, and to assure efficiency and product integrity. The production value is dependent on effective microbiological control to a significant degree. Depending on the size of the mill, the costs incurred when a machine is down for cleaning or repair can be tens of thousands of dollars per hour. Ineffective microbiological control results in numerous shutdowns, as many as one per day, to what should be a continuous process. Stopping the production process can be costly, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars weekly.
Catastrophic events have occurred as a result of ineffective biological control. For example, in a Wisconsin paper mill in 2008, a storage tank exploded, killing three workers. The three workers were welding on a catwalk above a storage tank where flammable hydrogen gas, produced by high bacteria levels, was present. While this is an extreme example, it is a real‐world consequence of ineffective control of microbial growth.