Charm ATP Test Can Guide School Cleaning Process to Become Effective Against Surface Contamination

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

School Boards and other institutional facilities are asking about monitoring their cleanliness. The Charm novaLUM II-X system provides a real time sanitation verification program to help protect school and institutional populations. Equip your institution today. can help.


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The science behind the monitoring shows “ATP as a marker for surface contamination of biological origin in schools and as a potential approach to the measurement of cleaning effectiveness.”

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene Shaughnessy Cole, (2013)

ISSA infograph

Charms Sciences produce a leading ATP surface swab and meter technology which can verify the cleaning effectiveness in just 5 seconds; and, uniquely the Charm Pocketswab Plus do not require refrigeration to be shelf stable for up to one year.

Reputable standards for school boards and institutions to understand how to measure cleaning effectiveness are well documented by the International Sanitary Supply Association. The ISSA is the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association.

The ISSA Clean Standard specifically provides “ranges of clean” based on ATP testing.

In Canada, can provide ATP PocketSwabs and a devices called a Luminometer which can read the Charm Sciences swabs in 5 seconds.

The Standard calls out for periodic measurement of cleaning effectiveness using these ATP meters. Facility managers can increase the frequency and zones of testing prior to re-openings and during times of pandemic warnings.

The digital swabbing history is built into the software generating reports for trending, and tracking from Charm novaLUM II-X system. By setting ATP limits, a quantitative record is in place for the determination of whether surfaces have been cleaned well and up to expectations. In 5 seconds, it can be determined if the space needs to be recleaned to be brought back into generally regarded as safe cleaning expectations. ATP meters are not capable of identifying specific pathogens or infectious agents and cannot directly detect viruses.

According to the standard, the goal is to ensure that schools are in a condition that is clean, safe and healthy for students and staff. The standard calls for corrective actions if the school or institution is not achieving the desired level of cleaning effectiveness. By integrating measurements using Charm PocketSwab technology into the cleaning process, a school can be sure that good cleaning results are objectively being met.

Improved cleaning hygiene in schools can result in reduced illnesses and reduced absenteeism according to the published Standard and growing evidence.

We have known for decades the level of cleanliness is involved in the spread of viral disease in crowded indoor establishments including schools. The improved cleaning of floors and desks in schools has been shown to reduce upper respiratory symptoms.

(Walinder, Norback,et al: Nasal patency and lavage biomarkers in relationto settled dust and cleaning routines in schools, 1999)

Testing helps assure effective cleaning. The Standard goes on to say the targeted cleaning of high touch points in schools can result in reduced illnesses related to bacterial contamination, reduced sick building syndrome symptoms, and reduced absenteeism due to infectious illness.

(Higashiyama, Hostetler, Nandrup, Zhang, Schulte: various (2010-2012)

The ISSA web page indicates ATP meters have been validated as the preferred quantitative method of determining cleaning effectiveness. The same research has “noted a reasonable correlation between ATP reduction and healthier indoor environments."

(Concurrent with ATP testing, the researchers tested surfaces for culturable bacteria using a different method – RODAC plates.)

"The simultaneous testing demonstrated that a reduction in ATP was accompanied by a consistent reduction in bacteria. The researchers, therefore, were able to reasonably conclude that a reduction in ATP suggests both cleaner and healthier surfaces.”

The research has validated ATP (adenosine triphosphate) measurement systems as a “relatively simple, rapid and affordable measure of the level of biologically sourced contamination on the interior surfaces of schools.”

While, ATP does not directly measure the total contamination on a surface, the research has concluded ATP luminescence is presently the best available quantitative measure of hard surface cleaning effectiveness.

The ISSA Clean Standards offer detailed ATP testing protocols. For example, testing before and after cleaning of high touch points helps establish the base line and resulting post-clean ATP reading. Moreover, the standard indicates “if ATP measurement suggests a school’s cleaning process is “ineffective,” the facility may wish to increase the frequency of testing as well as consider corrective actions.”

For well-kept schools, twice a year testing may be appropriate; yet, for higher risk facilities and when procedures or chemicals have changed, the frequency of testing should be increased. Testing a percentage of the high touch points as a random sample of the total available touch points is also prescribed in the Standard.

The Charm novaLUM IIX is unique as the unit can be customized with recommended limits for any surface type. Some examples are stainless steel, plastic, rubber, cement, wood, cloth etc. Limits need to be validated on site.

Some surfaces are porous which microorganisms find as a safe harboring point.

Schools and institutions have an opportunity to inspect what is expected by using Charm novaLUM II-X metering combined with the sensitive PocketSwab Plus for ATP testing. It’s time to use testing tools to help understand how cleaning efforts are doing against the risk of contagions and harmful microorganisms in these vital spaces. It's time for real time testing using novaLUM II-X

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