How clean is the library? Using ATP bioluminescence technology to identify surface contamination

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Highly contagious diseases thrive on college campuses. As campus hubs, academic libraries have the potential to spread disease through contaminated surfaces. This study examines surface cleanliness in an academic library in the Midwest. Researchers explored three questions: (a) What percentage of library surfaces are considered clean? (b) Is there a difference in cleanliness levels across the five environmental surface groups? and (c) Is there a change in cleanliness levels from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic? Thirty-nine high-touch surfaces were identified and grouped into five categories: (a) bathroom; (b) equipment; (c) fixtures; (d) furniture; and (e) materials. An ATP luminometer was used to measure cleanliness levels by swabbing surfaces to detect the presence of biofilms. Results indicate that only 6 % of library surfaces were considered clean; there was a significant difference in cleanliness levels across the five environmental surface groups; and library surfaces were significantly cleaner after the pandemic began. Because diseases may be transferred via surfaces and fomites, it is important to identify which are the most contaminated. Researchers recommend the use of ATP meters to identify contaminated surfaces and audit cleaning practices. Understanding and implementing risk-based cleaning strategies that target surfaces with the highest levels of contamination can be helpful in mitigating the spread of disease. Libraries can use the results of this study to identify the surfaces with the greatest risk. This study emphasizes the need to establish threshold limit values or cleanliness standards for academic libraries. Future research could also examine whether post-pandemic levels of cleanliness are maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102706
JournalJournal of Academic Librarianship
Volume49
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2023

Keywords

  • ATP luminometer
  • Academic libraries
  • Cleanliness
  • High-touch surfaces
  • Pandemic
  • Surface contamination

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