The problem with biofilm is that it’s usually invisible. Even surfaces that appear clean can be crawling with salmonella, MRSA and other dangerous bacteria. So how do we tell if a surface is truly clean? Fortunately, bacteria and the support system they live in leave a marker – adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
ATP is the energy currency that stores energy and powers cells. Think of it as cellular gasoline. Virtually all cells – including bacteria – contain ATP at different levels. The lower the ATP level, the cleaner the surface and the less likely it is to harbor biofilm and pathogens. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) endorse ATP metering to measure of surface cleanliness.
Using the Hygiena Luminometer, an ATP reading of less than 30 indicates it is unlikely that there is surface contamination on the surface that will support pathogen growth. At 30 or greater, the probability of something harmful being on the surface and the probability increases as the ATP reading increases – not good odds, particularly in a school or assisted-living facility.
[ Related: The Problem With Traditional Cleaners ]
Compared to traditional cleaners, Z BioScience A1+ Biosurfactant Cleaner achieves better ATP readings on the initial cleaning than most products with harmful chemicals, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Shortly after cleaning with the harmful cleaners and disinfectants, ATP readings start to climb. However, with Z BioScience cleaners, it has been shown that ATP readings remain near the post test levels for 24, 48, and even 72 hours. Similar results have been demonstrated in farms, schools, offices, restaurants and homes.
Biofilm and ATP
The Z BioScience biosurfactant cleaners have been proven to be better than every cleaner and degreaser against which they have been tested. The products are all certified green and are biodegradable, non-flammable, have VOC ratings that meet the California Standards, and are near neutral pH; they may be used with confidence around pets and children.
Z BioScience does not make any biocides or disinfectants. We don’t make biocides or disinfectants because they are generally dangerous to use (most are harmful to the skin with very high or very low pH) and most have high VOC ingredients that negatively affect indoor air quality and are harmful to breathe. Time has shown the use of these aggressive cleaning protocols has resulted in a variety of pathogenic bacteria developing resistance to these biocides and disinfectants and the risk to our health continues to increase at a faster and faster rate. Fortunately, the unique technology of Z BioScience offers a solution for cleaning down to the microbial level that does not rely on biocides and disinfectants.
[Related: The Importance of Probiotics ]
Biofilm is the pathogens best friend – it is their fortified castle that is virtually impregnable to most everything on the market – e.g. bleaches, quaternary ammonia, oxidizers, very low and high pH cleaners, UV, etc. If you haven’t read it already, please read about Biofilm here.
Because our products are not biocides or disinfectants, which require an EPA registration in order to make these claims, we do not make any direct claims that they have any effect on either pathogens or their fortified castle – biofilm. What Z BioScience does claim, as it has been proven over and over by third party testing, is that our products leave surfaces cleaner, longer, than any biocide or disinfectant tested, some examples of which are shown in Table 2. This is where a bit about ATP comes into the discussion.
What is ATP?
Adenosine Triphosphate, abbreviated to ATP, is a chemical compound in which the molecules store energy and carry it within the cell – think of it as the cell’s battery. Virtually all cells (living or dead), going back to the original nature of animal or plant that contained the cell, have ATP. Bacteria, both Probiotic and pathogenic, have ATP to greater or lesser degrees.
The Correlation of Biofilm and ATP
Can we say that a specific ATP reading above zero on a surface means that there is a biofilm created by pathogens present? Not absolutely. We can, however look at the probability of the presence of biological pathogens on a surface by measuring the ATP. ATP can be measured quickly and accurately with the use of a Luminometer. For example, the following table (Table 1.) relates the surface ATP reading with the probability that a biofilm containing pathogens is present.
Table 1. Comparison of ATP Readings and the Probability of Pathogenic Biofilm Presence
|ATP Reading (RLU)||Probability of Pathogenic Biofilm|
At an ATP reading of zero it is extremely unlikely that there are any harmful bacteria on the surface that will be harmful. At an ATP reading of 100 or greater the probability of something harmful being on the surface is better than 50/50 – odds that you probably don’t like when thinking about your, or your children’s, health.
What does all of this mean?
Since we can measure ATP on a surface quickly and easily, and we know the probability of pathogenic biofilm being present, we can draw a conclusion relative to the comparative cleaning capability of different cleaners, biocides and disinfectants. Shown below are a few examples of the effect on surface ATP by cleaning with the Z BioScience products as compared to disinfectants and cleaners.
Table 2. ATP Readings of Cleaning with Disinfectants vs. Z BioScience A1+
|ATP Readings (RLU)|
|Kitchen Ceramic Floor||Before Cleaning||At Time of Cleaning||24 hrs After Cleaning|
|Bleach – Straight from Bottle||285||35||310|
|Z BioScience A1+ Biosurfactant||285||15||7|
|Hospital Table||Before Cleaning||At Time of Cleaning||24 hrs After Cleaning|
|Famous Brand Bleach Wipes||270||27||78|
|Z BioScience A1+ Biosurfactant||270||12||10|
|Assisted Living Facility||Before Cleaning||At Time of Cleaning||24 hrs After Cleaning|
|Hydrogen Peroxide Solution||327||32||312|
|Z BioScience A1+ Biosurfactant||327||7||7|
There are several things to be learned from the results presented above:
- Z BioScience A1+ Biosurfactant Cleaner achieves better results on the initial cleaning than extra strength bleach liquid, Famous National Brand Bleach Wipes, and Hydrogen Peroxide;
- If a surface is contaminated prior to the initial cleaning, almost immediately after finishing cleaning with the biocides and disinfectants the ATP readings begin increasing;
- After cleaning with Z BioScience A1+ the surface is significantly cleaner (lower ATP readings) and the ATP readings continue to decrease over the next 1 to 24 hour period as the enzymatic action of the proprietary ingredients continue to work.
Results similar to those above have been demonstrated in agricultural operations, school buildings, office buildings, restaurants, homes, etc.
Some meaningful information on the relevance of ATP is included in an article that was published by Health Facilities Management Magazine. Read about ATP = Measurable Results.