Comparative evaluation of biofilm disinfectant efficacy tests

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Regulatory agencies are receiving registration applications for unprecedented, antibiofilm label claims for disinfectants. Reliable, practical, and relevant laboratory biofilm test methods are required to support such claims. This investigation describes the influence of fluid dynamics on the relevancy of a laboratory test. Several disinfectant formulations were tested using three different biofilm testing systems run side-by-side: the CDC biofilm reactor system that created turbulent flow (Reynolds number between 800 and 1850), the drip flow biofilm reactor system that created slow laminar flow (Reynolds number between 12 and 20), and the static biofilm system that involved no fluid flow. Each comparative experiment also included a dried surface carrier test and a dried biofilm test. All five disinfectant tests used glass coupons and followed the same steps for treatment, neutralization, viable cell counting, and calculating the log reduction (LR). Three different disinfectants, chlorine, a quaternary ammonium compound, and a phenolic, were each applied at two concentrations. Experiments were conducted separately with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus and every experiment was independently repeated. The results showed that biofilm grown in the CDC reactor produced the smallest LR, the static biofilm produced the largest LR, and biofilm grown in the drip flow reactor produced an intermediate LR. The differences were large enough to be of practical importance. The dried surface test often produced a significantly higher LR than the tests against hydrated or dried biofilm. The dried biofilm test produced LR values similar to those for the corresponding hydrated biofilm test. These results show that the efficacy of a disinfectant must be measured by using a laboratory method where biofilm is grown under fluid flow conditions similar to the environment where the disinfectant will be applied.




Buckingham-Meyer K, Goeres DM, Hamilton MA, "Comparative evaluation of biofilm disinfectant efficacy tests," J Microbiol Methods 2007 70(2):236-244
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