Without the ability to quantify the results of Green Cleaning practices in the area of microbial control, an operation, be they in-house or contracted, cannot accurately and transparently market and/or qualify the effectiveness of their operations. Therefore, ATP testing and monitoring of key “high touch points” must be carried out and logged. 

ATP or adenosine triphosphate, is the universal energy molecule in the cells of all animal, plant, bacteria, yeast and mold. Green Cleaning is understanding that the removal of the food source for microbes is paramount to the control of diseases caused by pathogenic bacterium, then there is a measurable reduction in the life of these unseen issues which plague our society.

Disinfectants kill organisms; they are regulated as “pesticides” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The U.S. EPA interprets FIFRA as prohibiting manufacturers from making claims that disinfectants and sanitizers are Green or Environmentally Sensitive. Disinfectants and sanitizers must satisfy strict efficacy performance standards prior to being registered by EPA for use. Disinfectants destroy or irreversibly inactivate infectious, or other undesirable organisms, but not necessarily their spores. Disinfectants can be concentrated liquids, ready to use liquids, powders, or sprays. 

More than 50 percent of antimicrobial pesticides are considered to be public health related products, intended to control disease-causing microorganisms such as E. coli, HIV, and the tuberculosis bacterium. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviews public health antimicrobial pesticides for efficacy as well as safety for two major reasons. 

First, if these products are ineffective, people may get sick or remain sick longer, potentially leading to avoidable public health problems.

Second, unlike larger pests such as weeds and weevils, microorganisms are not visible to the naked eye, and users cannot generally determine whether products are working. 

Best Practices in Green Cleaning dictates that due diligence must be recognized when it comes to the proper use of whichever control product is being used. Since the adoption of ATP testing, it has been shown repeatedly, that proper understanding and use of procedures are as much, if not more important, than the selection of product in general daily infection prevention. 

David Thompson is a 40-year veteran of the cleaning industry and author of “The New Generation of Cleaning”, a best Practices Guide for Environmental Health Services. Thompson is also president of the Green Clean Institute. His book can be found at www.Janitorkatt.com while the GCI coursework and certification courses have a home at www.GCICertified.com.