Optimizing acidified bleach solutions to improve sporicidal efficacy on building materials

J P Wood, M W Calfee, M Clayton, N Griffin-Gatchalian, A Touati
Letters in Applied Microbiology 2011, 53 (6): 668-72

AIMS: We evaluated whether lowering pH (with acetic acid) and raising free available chlorine (FAC) levels in bleach solutions would improve efficacy in inactivating Bacillus spores on different materials. We also determined how varying pH and FAC levels affected bleach stability.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Acidified bleach solutions with pH levels of 4.5, 6 and 7.5 and FAC levels between 5000 and 10,000 ppm were evaluated for decontamination efficacy against Bacillus subtilis spores inoculated onto test coupons made from wood, ceramic and galvanized steel. Lowering the pH or increasing the FAC level improved efficacy in some of the tests, but depended on the material, which significantly affected decontamination efficacy. The acidified bleach at pH of 7.5 was significantly less effective than bleach at a pH of 4.5 or 6. The FAC levels in the bleach were the most stable at pH 4.5, and stability at pH 4.5 was not significantly affected by the initial FAC level.

CONCLUSIONS: It may be advisable to use bleach solutions with lower pH (rather than high FAC levels) in light of both the decontamination efficacy and bleach stability results. For wood materials, use of sporicides other than acidified bleach may be warranted.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: These results may be useful in preparing acidified bleach solutions for decontamination of materials contaminated with spores such as Bacillus anthracis.

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