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Infection control methodology #1: a guide to ATP testing

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing is already commonly used in the healthcare and food sectors

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has swept around the world, causing a global pandemic of Covid-19. As the virus is new, there is much that remains uncertain about it, including how it transmits between people. Guidance from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) suggests you’re more likely to catch the infection through the air if you’re next to someone infected rather than through surface transmission. That’s why social distancing is still a key control measure, even with the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Nevertheless, surface transmission does need to be addressed as more workplaces re-open. We’re here to provide vital deep cleaning and decontamination services across a number of different sectors in the UK economy. We adopt a straightforward but robust infection control methodology: test, clean, disinfect and test again. In a series of blogs over coming weeks, we’ll be looking in more detail at the different elements of this methodology. First up, we have testing.

Testing for the presence of the virus

It’s worth taking a step back and analysing how the virus can spread beyond droplets in the air. From scientific research on similar coronaviruses, we know that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on different surfaces for different lengths of time. On copper, it remains active for only 3 hours, and up to 24 hours on cardboard and other porous surfaces. But on hard, shiny surfaces such as stainless steel, plastic and glass, SARS-CoV-2 can survive for up to 72 hours. Unfortunately, common touchpoints in an office or other workplace are usually made of these types of materials, from lift buttons to door handles.

Testing for the presence of coronavirus then becomes all the more important. Of course, much focus in limiting the spread of the virus has rightly been on testing individuals, especially given some people don’t show symptoms of infection. The new UK NHS Test and Trace initiative is a critical means of inhibiting the community spread of the disease. But one other area of testing is vital for stopping the virus in its tracks. We all need to have confidence that the environments we live and work in have been properly cleaned and disinfected to limit our exposure to the virus.

ATP testing as the way forward

One effective method for testing surfaces is to detect the presence of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is an indicator molecule for the presence of biological residues. ATP testing is already commonly used in the healthcare and food sectors. It works by capturing the molecule from surfaces or water samples via a swab. The swab is inserted into a device called a luminometer, which reads the amount of light produced by the sample in Relative Light Units, or RLUs. The higher the RLUs, the more likely it is that the surface has not been properly cleaned.

We recommend ATP testing for all our deep cleaning and decontamination assignments. Our team use it before and after cleaning and disinfection to certify the effectiveness of decontamination. We are currently researching ways to make ATP testing, or something similar, more readily available. This will help organisations to promote confidence amongst their workforce and the visiting public, that their premises have been cleaned thoroughly and effectively. And alongside enhanced health and safety procedures, it can be a critical means of following government guidance around working safely during the pandemic. The government has a downloadable notice that a workplace is Covid-19 secure.

Sorting out the facts from the myths and misinformation

Look out for our future blogs on our infection control methodology. In the meantime, we’ve produced a SARS-CoV-2 fact sheet to sort the facts from the myths and misinformation. It includes a handy list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with the virus. #ATPtesting #DeepCleaning #Decontamination #Coronavirus #InfectionControl #SpecialistCleaning #REAT

Contact one of the team today to find out more about ATP testing as part of our infection control methodology for helping to eradicate coronavirus.

Post by Shaun D. Doak

Shaun is the CEO of React Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.


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