The Wiperator

A new ASTM International standard details the procedures for testing pre-wetted towelettes with a mechanized device called "the wiperator." Manufacturers would use the standard (soon to be available as E2967, Test Method for Assessing the Ability of Pre-Wetted Towelettes to Remove and Transfer Bacterial Contamination on Hard, Non-Porous Environmental Surfaces Using the Wiperator) to test towelettes for their ability to decontaminate surfaces laden with pathogens.

ASTM member Syed Sattar, Ph.D., and his collaborators note that high touch surfaces are commonly wiped with disinfectant-presoaked towelettes to reduce the spread of infectious agents. Despite this, premarket assessment of such wipes often is not applicable to all situations in which the wipes might be used. In addition, current methods for testing towelettes are often limited to vegetative bacteria, not other pathogen types that can be spread via such surfaces. The new method addresses these concerns, with precise controls for the length of wiping action and pressure with which the wipe contacts the surface during pathogen removal and transfer; it can also be readily adapted to work with other classes of pathogens.

"This standard is designed to generate test data closely simulating the actual use of disinfectant-presoaked towelettes so that label claims of products are as relevant as possible for consumers," says Sattar, a professor emeritus of microbiology at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada.

The method has already been through an international interlaboratory test, but the subcommittee would like to expand testing to include more labs. Subcommittee E35.15 on Antimicrobial Agents invites participation in the continued development of this and other standards.

CONTACT Technical Information: Syed Sattar, Ph.D., University of Ottawa • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada • tel +1.307.399.1345 | ASTM Staff: Brian Milewski • tel +1.610.832.9619 | Upcoming Meeting: October 26-29 • October Committee Week • Tampa, Fla.

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