Disinfectant Glossary
 
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Glossary of Terms

Antimicrobial
Antiseptic

AOAC

Bacteria

Bactericidal

Bacteriostatic

Biofilm
-cidal

Contact Time

Disinfection

Efficacy Data

Fungicide


Fungus
Germicide
Gram-Negative

Gram-Positive
Gram Staining

Halogens

Hard Water

Hard Water Tolerance

"Hospital-Grade" Disinfectant

Iodophors
Mercurials (Heavy Metals)
Organic Soil

Organic Soil Tolerance
Pathogen
pH
Phenols

PPM

Quat
Sanitizing

Sodium Hypochlorite
-static

Sterilization

Virucide

Virus

 
 
   
       
     

 


Antimicrobial
Compound which inhibits the growth of microorganisms.



 


Antiseptic
Compound which destroys or inhibits the growth of microorganisms which is designed for application to living tissue. Antiseptic hand soaps are an example.



 


AOAC
Association of Official Analytical Chemists (www.aoac.org) - An organization of independent analytical scientists that develop the test methods used by the EPA and other laboratories to verify a disinfectant's efficacy.



 


Bacteria
Extremely small, unicellular microorganisms that multiply logarithmically by cell division and whose cell is typically contained within a cell wall, occurring in spherical, rod-like, spiral, or curving shapes and found in virtually all environments.



 


Bactericidal
An agent or process that kills bacteria.



 


Bacteriostatic

Compound which inhibits the growth of microorganisms.




 


Biofilm

The colonization of bacteria on a moist surface that forms a slimy, glue-like film. A biofilm can be formed by a single bacterial species but, most often, biofilms consist of many species of bacteria as well as fungi, algae and protozoa. The inside of a clogged drain pipe is a good example of a biofilm. Disinfectants generally are not effective against a biofilm without mechanical agitation.




 


-cidal
The suffix used to designate a killing treatment. The word's prefix indicates the type of organism affected, such as bactericidal or fungicidal.



 


Contact Time
Term used to describe the amount of time a disinfectant should remain on a hard surface before it is rinsed or wiped.



 


Disinfection
The removal or destruction of pathogens from inanimate objects. Nonpathogenic environmental organisms may not be completely eliminated through disinfection.



 


Efficacy Data
The test results of the AOAC use dilution test method for disinfectants. Available in Essential Industries' Research Bulletins.



 


Fungicide
An agent that kills fungi. Athlete's Foot (Trichophyton mentagrophytes) is one example.



 


Fungus
Multicellular organisms that include molds and mildews.



 


Germicide
An agent that kills microorganisms.



 


Gram-Negative
Gram-negative bacteria are a type of bacteria that includes many pathogenic types, such as Escherichia coli (E-coli). They differ from gram-positive bacteria in that they contain an outer membrane in additon to a cell wall. Gram-negative bacteria appear bright pink to red when they are "gram-stained". Quats are moderately effective on gram-negative organisms.



 


Gram-Positive
Similar to gram-negative bacteria, but they do not contain an outer membrane. Staphylococcus is one example. Gram-positive bacteria appear dark purple when they are "gram-stained". Quats are highly effective on gram-positive organisms.



 


Gram Staining
A widely used method for classifying bacteria that was invented in 1884 by Danish physician, Christian Gram. First, violet dye and iodine is used, followed by alcohol and a counter stain. As a result, either a gram-positive or gram-negative bacteria emerges.



 


Halogens
A class of disinfectants that include chlorine, bromine, iodine and fluorine and kill bacteria through oxidation.



 


Hard Water
Water which contains ions of Magnesium (Mg++) and Calcium (Ca++). Hard water ions make some disinfectants less efficacious.



 


Hard Water Tolerance
The ability of a disinfectant to function properly even when diluted with hard water. Most quaternary disinfectants tolerate 400 PPM hard water or greater.



 


"Hospital-Grade" Disinfectant
A product that is shown to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella cholerasesuis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.



 


Iodophors
Term used to describe iodine-containing compounds.



 


Mercurials (Heavy Metals)
A class of disinfectants that include copper, zinc, arsenic, mercury and silver. Almost never used in modern disinfecting of hard surfaces since they are toxic and create difficulties in waste disposal.



 


Organic Soil
The addition of 5% blood serum to the standard AOAC use dilution test. Used to gauge a disinfectant's effectiveness since most encounter soil in addition to microorganisms.



 


Organic Soil Tolerance
The ability of a disinfectant to function in a dirty environment. Quats exhibit good organic soil tolerance. Halogens (bleach and iodine) and Phenols exhibit poor organic soil tolerance.



 


Pathogen
Disease-causing microorganism.



 


pH
The measure of hydroxyl (OH-) or hydrogen (H+) ions in a solution. Acids contain varying levels of hydrogen ions, bases contain hydroxyl ions. A pH of 7 is neutral, but for cleaning purposes, a pH of 5-9 is considered to be in the “neutral” range. Below 5 is acidic and greater than 9 is alkaline.







Phenols
Carbolic acid compounds used for disinfection. Very effective on vegetative bacteria, including Mycobacteriam tuberculosis (TB).



 


PPM
Stands for parts per million.



 


Quat
Short for quaternary ammonium chloride compounds. Commonly used for general disinfection of hard surfaces.



 


Sanitizing
The cleansing of inanimate objects to reduce the microbial count to a safe level.



 


Sodium Hypochlorite
The active ingredient in bleach that ranges from 5.25% to 12%. Expressed as NaOCl.



 


-static
The suffix used to designate inhibitory treatments such as bacteriostatic or fungistatic.



 


Sterilization
The destruction of all life forms from an object or surface. Usually done through heat or radiation, although a handful of chemicals exhibit sterilization properties such as Gluteraldehydes.



 


Virucide
An agent that kills viruses.



 


Virus
A microorganism that needs a host (human, animal or other living organism) to propagate.