You’ve heard of antibiotic resistant bacteria, but there are also microbes can also resist the most caustic and acidic cleansers. They have a special trick, secreting a syrupy substance that protects them from bleach, oxidizers and disinfectants. The surface may look clean, but this microscopic biofilm is harboring bacterial fugitives, which continue to grow.
Biofilm protects the usual bacterial suspects: MRSA, salmonella, E.coli, C. difficile, viruses, fungus and others. Even worse, it facilitates reproduction. Dividing pathogens can double as rapidly as every 20 minutes.
Biofilm is often found in bathrooms, kitchens, cafeterias, laundries and even on polished floors. In addition to aiding pathogens, biofilm makes surfaces harder to clean, dulls them, makes them dangerously slippery and can cause odors.
Biofilm can be detected by several methods, most of which involve an extended time to allow for incubation to test for pathogen presence. A much quicker way to test for the potential hazard of a biofilm support system is via an ATP test of the surface. An ideal surface would have an ATP level of zero – at that level there is no contamination to support pathogen colonization and biofilm growth – this would be a surface that is truly clean.
To understand biofilm, it is helpful to understand how it forms.
Floating in the air are a mixture of bacteria – good (probiotic) bacteria, neutral bacteria, and bad (pathogenic) bacteria. The pathogenic bacteria are the really bad actors because they are the ones that primarily create the biofilm that becomes the fortress and home for bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other harmful microbials.
When a pathogenic bacteria lands on a surface the first thing it does is begin to excrete a combination of saccharides, lipids, proteins and more; these are called Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS). The purpose of the EPS is to anchor the pathogen to the surface so that it can start multiplying and simultaneously create a nearly impervious shelter – then they start to double.
The speed at which pathogens can expand from one cell to a substantial biofilm colony is mind boggling. A pathogen can normally double in 18 to 24 minutes. Starting with a single pathogen, if a doubling occurs every 21 minutes, within 24 hours the size of the pathogenic colony will contain 590,295,810,359,000,000,000 cells.
At some time during the life of the biofilm colony it will start to “sluff-off” portions of the colony which will move on the create another colony and the cycle keeps repeating. The only way to end this cycle is to make the surfaces truly clean and keep them clean.
According to the NIH (National Institute of Health) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 90% of harmful bacteria live in biofilm that cannot be cleaned away by the strongest disinfectant.
Using Z BioScience products in your facilities or home will work to introduce a safe, stable and healthy microbial community that lowers the risk of problems with contamination, pathogens and odors. You will be surprised at the powerful solutions that our gentle, environmentally-friendly products offer.