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Am J Public Health. 1990 Jan;80(1):17-21.

Effect of disinfectants on pseudomonads colonized on the interior surface of PVC pipes.

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Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.


We investigated the effect of disinfectants on microbial contamination present on the interior surface of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes filled with 600 ml of water contaminated with Pseudomonas pickettii and P. aeruginosa. After eight weeks, water was removed, and the test pipes exposed to various types of aqueous disinfectants. Disinfectant samples were removed, neutralized, and examined for recovery of microorganisms by membrane filtration. After seven-days exposure, disinfectant solutions were removed and pipes filled with sterile distilled water. Water was examined by membrane filtration at seven-day intervals to determine whether the organisms had survived in the pipes. Colonization of PVC surfaces were examined during each study phase by scanning electron-microscopy (SEM). P. aeruginosa was isolated directly from iodophor disinfectant, phenolic germicide, and iodophor antiseptic solutions. After addition of sterile water, P. aeruginosa was recovered from PVC pipes previously exposed to chlorine, phenolic, quaternary-ammonium, and iodophor disinfectants; P. pickettii was recovered from water in pipes treated with iodophor disinfectant, chlorine, and ethanol. The existence of glycocalyx-like cellular masses on the interior wall of PVC pipes most likely protected embedded organisms from the microbicidal action of some of the disinfectants tested and served as the reservoir for continuous contamination.

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