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Am J Infect Control. 1994 Jun;22(3):152-62.

Feasibility of a combined carrier test for disinfectants: studies with a mixture of five types of microorganisms.

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Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Health and Welfare Canada, Ottawa.



There is mounting concern regarding the efficacy of many germicides on the market because officially recognized germicidal tests for various classes of microorganisms vary widely and often lack reproducibility and proper quantitation. We report here a carrier method for simultaneously and quantitatively assessing the efficacy of liquid chemical germicides against a mixture of microorganisms of varying degrees of resistance.


In the test, each small glass cup (10 mm wide x 14 mm long) was contaminated with 10 microliters of a standardized mixture of Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin, Trichophyton mentagrophytes spores, Sabin poliovirus type 1, and Bacillus stearothermophilus spores in 5% fetal bovine serum. The inoculum was dried for 60 minutes under ambient conditions and covered with 60 microliters of the disinfectant under test or a balanced salt solution control for the desired contact time. The carrier was then placed in 2940 microliters of an eluent and the eluates assayed separately for the five microorganisms. Tap water was used to dilute the test product as needed.


Of the 11 products tested, 2% alkaline glutaraldehyde, 0.6% sodium hypochlorite (about 5000 ppm free chlorine), and a 0.4% quarternary ammonium compound containing 23% hydrochloric acid were effective against all five challenge organisms. A hard-surface spray containing 0.1% o-phenylphenol with 79% ethanol was effective against all but bacterial spores; 70% (volume/volume) ethanol alone and povidone-iodine (1% available iodine) were effective against S. aureus, the mycobacterium, and the fungus; a 3% solution of peroxygen compounds was effective only against S. aureus and the poliovirus; 1.5% chlorhexidine gluconate, 0.06% quaternary ammonia compound, and 0.03% o-phenylphenol + 0.03% p-tertiary amylphenol could inactivate nothing but S. aureus; and 3% hydrogen peroxide was ineffective in all tests.


This method shows promise for use with various classes of microorganisms, individually or as mixtures. Its application should enable the classification of germicides according to spectrum of activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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