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Theoretical and Experimental Aspects of Microbicidal Activities of Hard Surface Disinfectants: Are Their Label Claims Based on Testing Under Field Conditions?

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High-touch environmental surfaces are important in the spread of many nosocomial pathogens. Although such surfaces are routinely disinfected, the testing and label claims of many common disinfectants do not reflect the realities of field use. A study was conducted to determine the influence of several crucial factors on the action of disinfectants in general, and to assess the killing efficiency of selected chemistries against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, related to their drying times (i.e., after one application) and label-specified contact times using a quantitative carrier test. The products were also tested for their ability to wet a hydrophobic (epoxy resin) surface. The hard-surface disinfectants (in-use concentration in ppm) tested were: (a) chlorine bleach (500); (b) quaternary ammonium compounds (quat; 600) alone; (c) quat (3000) with 17 isopropanol (v/v); (d) quat (3000) with 60 ethanol (v/v); (e) phenolic (800) alone; (f) quat (2000), phenolic (3000) with 70 ethanol (v/v); and (g) accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP; 5000 of H2O2). The arbitrarily set criterion of bactericidal activity was 6 log10 reduction in the viability of both species tested. All surfaces tested with all products dried in <5 min, with alcohol-based surfaces drying significantly faster. Even though the alcohol-free quat and phenolic claim a contact time of 10 min, they dried in <4 min after a single application and failed to meet the performance criterion. Bleach (500 ppm) dried in about 3 min and was effective. AHP also dried in about 3 min and met its label claim even at 1 min of contact. Quat (3000) with 17 isopropanol dried at 1 min and was effective. Quat (3000) with 60 ethanol and quat (2000), phenolic (3000) with 70 ethanol dried in <1 min, and were ineffective. AHP, alcohol-containing quats, and quat-phenolic-alcohol gave acceptable wettability, while quat and phenolic alone, as well as bleach, covered the treated surface unevenly. The findings show that label claims, especially those for contact times, fail to reflect the way many hard-surface disinfectants are used in the field.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Virox Technologies, 2770 Coventry Rd, Oakville, ON, Canada.

Publication date: 2010-11-24

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  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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