Study Questions Reliability Of ATP Monitoring Systems
Contributed by OptiSolve.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence measurement systems are used in many industries including foodservice, healthcare, and in recent years, the professional cleaning industry. When used in professional cleaning, these systems help determine the cleanliness of a surface, providing very rapid results.
A high ATP reading suggests that a surface has a high level of microbial contamination. A low level would indicate just the opposite, that the surface is relatively clean, with few contaminants that might harm human health.
However, one published study, titled "How Reliable Are ATP Bioluminescence Meters in Assessing Decontamination of Environmental Surfaces in Healthcare Settings?," suggests that ATP monitoring systems may not be as reliable as once believed.
In fact, the study unequivocally states, “ATP meters cannot be relied upon to evaluate the effective disinfection of a healthcare surface."
Moreover, one of the problems detected by this study is that some of the chemicals and disinfectants used to clean a surface can have an impact on ATP readings.
"This can result in a false sense of confidence and believing a surface has been effectively disinfected of infection causing pathogens when that may not be the case," according to Brad Evans, general manager at OptiSolve, a vulnerability assessment service that reveals contamination on surfaces using new imaging technology.
The study also found that different types of ATP monitoring systems from different manufacturers can produce varying test results.
Further, it reported that "the swabbing units [on the different ATP systems] are unreliable at picking up total surface ATP."
The conclusion, by these experts, "was that at least in a healthcare setting, ATP monitoring systems are not a failsafe choice," says Evans.
"This is why many facilities are now embracing imaging technologies that capture pathogens on surfaces, pinpointing precisely where pathogens are present and in what amounts."
Does this mean cleaning professionals should stop using ATP monitoring systems?
Not necessarily, according to Evans. "They still can play a role in helping cleaning professionals to generally identify surface contamination and opportunities to improve, however, surface imaging technology truly offers a step-change for infection prevention and control."
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