What is ATP testing and How to Test for ATP

Why and How Industries are Incorporating ATP testing into Cleaning Protocols

A surface may look clean, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is clean. Some contamination and debris cannot be seen with the naked eye. So how do we know if a surface is actually clean? An ATP meter can tell us just that.

What is ATP and How it’s Measured on Surfaces

ATP, adenosine triphosphate, is a molecule found in all living cells and is responsible for transferring and storing energy. ATP levels act as an indicator of bacteria, or ‘dirt’ on a surface.

An ATP meter examines particles and measures the amount of ATP on a surface. Here at Green Science Solutions, we only use 3M’s LM1 Luminometer because it’s best-in-class and has less interference issues compared to other ATP meters.

After a surface is cleaned, you can use 3M’s Clean-Trace™ Surface ATP Test Swabs to get a sample of ATP on a surface for an ATP meter to measure.

How to Test for ATP on a Surface:

  • Swab the surface area to be cleaned
  • Snap the swab into the solution and shake it up
  • Put the swab into the LM1 Luminometer ATP meter
  • In just seconds, you’ll have an accurate reading of how much ATP is on the surface

Once the swab is activated, the ATP will then react with an enzyme and produce Relative Light Units (RLU). The higher the RLU number, the more contaminated the sample.

apt_meter_3m

3M's best-in-class LM1 ATP meter

How to Develop Your ATP Testing Protocols

Number of spaces, types of surfaces and frequency of testing can all inform an organization’s testing protocols. Some businesses use ATP meters to spot check cleaning processes, while others track and monitor ATP test results with 3M’s Hygiene Monitoring System.

3M's LM1 Hygiene Monitoring Program - The kit includes the LM1 Luminometer, software, 1 free case of swabs (case of 100) and the 2-year extended warranty.

Given that there are numerous variables to consider when developing a testing protocol, GSS consults with organizations to develop customized testing plans to meet industry-specific certification requirements and other business goals.

To develop effective, manageable testing procedures, GSS’ first strives to understand the organization’s cleanliness and verification goals because they widely vary depending on industry requirements and standards.

Testing procedures will depend on whether the organization is simply assuring consumers a space is clean or the company is looking to meet specific certification requirements for organizations like the WELL Institute, which GSS is a member.

After GSS understands cleaning and testing goals and objectives, the following factors are considered when developing a testing program:

  • How the space is used: frequency of use, number of people using the space
  • Current cleaning processes: cleaning solutions used, frequency surfaces are being cleaned and types of surfaces being cleaned
  • Identify high-touch areas that should be tested consistently

Industries Adopt ATP Testing for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Companies have had to make a lot of changes in their operations to keep their employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. While ATP testing has been used in the food service industry for years, it’s now being widely adopted by numerous industries as part of their enhanced cleaning protocols.

Industries that have implemented ATP testing include:

  • Long-term care facilities and hospitals
  • Athletic facilities and stadiums
  • Schools and Universities
  • Transportation: Airlines, buses, and car services
  • Restaurants
  • Other community spaces

GSS client Total Transportation incorporated ATP testing to ensure their vehicles were clean and ready to use before each ride.

Charlie Swabbing Still
“The real difference maker for us is the 3M ™ Clean Trace hygiene monitoring system,” said Charlie Murray, COO of Total Transportation. “ATP testing allows us to look at an area before and after it’s been cleaned. We simply swab an area of the cabin…put it in the LM1 and in just seconds, we have a reading as to how clean or dirty an area is. It’s very important to continue the strives that we’ve made in the transportation sector and continue to provide exceptional service.”

ATP testing gives that added layer of assurance to employees and customers that shared spaces are indeed clean. GSS is one of a select few authorized distributors of 3M’s LM1 ATP meter, Clean-Trace Swabs and Hygiene Monitoring System.

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