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Microbial Product Testing FAQ


What is Situ Biosciences?

Strictly speaking in situ (In 'si:tu) or (In 'si:chu -- like a sneeze) is Latin for in 'place'.

However for a range of scientific and industrial markets, it refers to the evaluation of a material in its most natural use environment. Expertise is key to evaluating bioproduct performance simulating the in situ environment as best as possible.

More importantly, for a given product it is the combination of our knowledge of the appropriate microbiological test methods and their limitations that results in the best assessment and finished product cost and performance.

Is Situ Biosciences a specialty chemical company?

Situ Biosciences LLC is an independent microbiology consultation and testing laboratory.

We provide an unbiased assessment for the best antimicrobial solutions globally available, to solve your problem or enhance your finished product performance.

What is a biocide? Is it different than an Antimicrobial?

Antimicrobial, biocides, antibiotics, insecticides, etc. ...are all generic names used to identify regulated chemical agents used in controlling different types of microorganisms in a broad spectrum of applications.

Regardless of their common name, in the United States they are predominantly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the general category of Pesticides.

Medical devices such as high-level disinfectants are regulated by the FDA, along with food and food contact additives.

As their regulation is both chemical identity and end use specific, there are few unilateral descriptions that apply to these types of additives.

Antimicrobials and biocides are most associated with the control of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae. They are typically described as Biocides in industrial applications such as bulk preservation or manufacturing uses, and as Antimicrobials for consumer products. Regardless, the active ingredients could be interchangeable.

For more information on the definition and regulation of biocides see the relevant regulatory authorities: US Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA); US Food and Drug Administration (U.S FDA); and European Biocidal Products Directive.

What are industrial test methods and why are they important?

What are Industrial Standard Test Methods?

Industrial standardization has allowed industries to apply best practices to how their products are made. This allows for manufacturing to known degrees of accuracy and interchangeability. Standards now include a range of test criteria for most products made and used in industry and by consumers.

What are Microbial Test Standards?

For antimicrobials, the standardized tests are a series of microbiological assays that integrate, as much as possible, the use conditions for a given product. These methods need to be accurately reproducible to benefit both the manufacturer and customer.

Why is Standardized Testing Used?

Industrial standards represent the best way to provide performance comparisons across an industry, independent of the site where the test is performed. Because of a long history of proven reliability, regulatory agencies such as the EPA accept these methods as evidence for valid product testing.

Is there a standardized test that is best for a given product?

First assess the formulation, performance and regulatory needs and then devise a validation/certification plan for assessment testing.

What are Aldehydes?

Aldehyde and Formaldehyde as Antimicrobials - Overview: Formaldehyde is the most basic form of an antimicrobial aldehyde.

Aldehydes and Formaldehydes can be volatile at room temperature leading to the odor commonly associated with preservation of tissue or tissue samples such as in laboratories, hospitals, and mortuaries.

As a class of antimicrobials, formaldehydes are known as reactive antimicrobials, in that their predominant mechanism for controlling microorganisms is to react with peptides and proteins in the microorganism. As this reaction progresses, an organism's biochemical processes become increasingly impaired and the organism dies.

This mechanism makes aldehyde types of chemistries very potent for all types of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses. It also makes this type of chemistry problematic for use around human tissue.

Very selective and stringent guidelines must be followed to manage the appropriate use of aldehyde chemistries.

Given the utility of these types of chemistry, manufacturers of aldehyde based antimicrobials have undertaken strategies to produce larger compounds, that when in the presence of water will break apart (hydrolyze) and release monomers of formaldehyde or aldehyde containing groups. These molecules can then provide the antimicrobial actions needed but avoiding some of the health, safety and stability issues with formulating the formaldehyde molecule.

How are Aldehydes used?

Aldehyde Uses

Due to its tremendous versatility and broad spectrum efficacy, aldehydes are used in antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, sporicide, antialgal, and protozoacide applications.

Aldehydes are even used against macro-organisms such as mollusks and other invasive species; aldehyde chemistries are one of the most broadly used in industry.

These chemistries are used as medically registered high level disinfectants, used in animal bio-security for maintenance, to control viral outbreaks, and as preservatives for cosmetics and personal care products.

Reference Articles:

Emerging Infectious Diseases
2001 Mar-Apr; 7(2):348-53.
New disinfection and sterilization methods.
Rutala WA, Weber DJ.

Antimicrobial activity, uses and mechanism of action of glutaraldehyde.
1980 Apr;48(2):161-90.
Gorman SP, Scott EM, Russell AD.
J Appl Bacteriol.

What are Phenolics?

What is Triclosan and what is it used for?

Triclosan belongs to a large class of antimicrobials containing a phenolic ring as its chemical backbone, known as bisphenol or estrified phenol molecules. Like many phenolic based antimicrobials, it is highly stable and has relatively poor water solubility. Its stability allows it to be used in relatively diverse environments such as high temperatures without it breaking down and becoming ineffective. Low water solubility means that it can be used in water environments, without it being too mobile to maintain good durability. By contrast due to low water solubility, aqueous formulations lacking surfactant type stabilizers are typically not appropriate for its use.

Triclosan is primarily used as an antibacterial for preservation and protection of personal care and consumer products such as plastics, textiles, coatings, sealants, and resins. It is one of few antimicrobials proven safe and effective in direct food contact applications, such as in toothpaste to help prevent longer term proliferation of bacterial on teeth or in the mouth. Significantly this molecule is very effective against difficult to control mycobacterium which can contaminate industrial and consumer products such as metal working fluids and surfactant based formulations.

Reference Articles: 1.) Whither Triclosan? J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 May; 53(5):693-5. Apr 8. Review. Russell AD. and Chemosphere, 2009 Nov 23. 2.)Fate of triclosan in agricultural soils after biosolid applications. Lozano N, Rice CP, Ramirez M, Torrents A.

What is Aerobic Biodegradation?

What makes a product biodegradable?

In the most basic sense, biodegradability is the ability for a product to be consumed by microorganisms. Biodegradability for the purposes of making claims (as an inherent property of the material) requires a bit more detail.

Currently, unless the product is 100% naturally derived and not materially changed in the manufacturing process, testing must be performed to enable a supplier to make legitimate claims on a products biodegradability.

What is the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Biodegradation?

From a microbial perspective, there are two methods for biodegradation:

Aerobic in which organisms use oxygen as part of the respiration for consumption of nutrients, and Anaerobic in which organisms use other elements such as sulfur, in the process of respiration and consumption of nutrients.

In the real world, there is typically a continuum of these two processes, but in waste treatment facilities, the facility is managed is such a way that one or the other process is the predominant form of degradation. For most commercial markets, aerobic biodegradation is preferred.

For more about aerobic biodegradation, call the lab at 847-483-9950.

What are Antimicrobial Additives?

What are antimicrobial additives?

Antimicrobials are a class of ingredients used in a tremendous range of raw materials and finished goods. The objective of these ingredients is to protect or to enhance the useable lifespan in the presence of microorganisms present in nearly all environments.

Antimicrobials target the microorganisms in the product and bioproduct additives target the residual effects of the microorganisms such as stains or odors. Originally developed for use as biocides, antimicrobial additives are used in nearly every industry and consumer product market.

Used in combination, antimicrobials can diminish the microorganisms and the physical evidence of microorganisms including odors and stains. The typical microorganisms of concern are commonly bacteria, and fungi; both disease and non-disease causing species.

There are numerous types of these additives and proper selection depends on the performance required and the end use of the product.

As with any auxiliary, antimicrobials may affect the other additives used in and or on the product (dyes, UV protection, durability enhancers, etc.). When selecting the antimicrobial, consideration should be made of the product's primary performance characteristics.

For more information on how an antimicrobial additive may affect the overall performance of a product, contact the lab at 847-483-9950.

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