ISO 22196

Antimicrobial Testing (Non-Porous)

ISO 22196 is a test method that quantitatively measures the antibacterial activity of plastics and other non-porous surfaces. It is a standard method established to test the ability of treated surfaces to kill (bactericidal) or prevent growth (bacteriostatic) of bacteria over 24 hours. It is a sensitive assay, able to detect low levels of antibacterial activity and achieve reproducible results, based on the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) Z 2801.

The ISO 22196 procedure

ISO 22196 is performed by inoculating control and testing surfaces with bacteria and observing the change in population.

All these steps allow us to establish whether the tested surfaces are bacteriostatic, bactericidal or support bacterial growth.

Two bacterial species are specified in the standard ISO 22196 method, which states that samples should be tested against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. However, these can be substituted depending on the client’s needs, being able to test against more product and commercially relevant microorganisms such as MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Campylobacter spp. or Salmonella spp.

Things to note 

Credibility of result

The method has some limitations, and some people argue that it is not an accurate representation of contamination events. While a treated surface might meet the requirements of ISO 22196, it may not show the same result in ‘real-life’ studies.

It is worth considering that the ISO 22196 test is run in laboratory conditions instead of ‘real-life’. However, the method gives bacteria their ideal growth conditions and allows us to control conditions that may otherwise interfere and mask the performance of the materials.

In ‘real-life’, you cannot control the number of bacteria that went on to the product and therefore cannot quantify the exact reduction of a set time frame. As a result, the ISO 22196 test offers a realistic alternative to assess whether a product offers a reduction in bacteria.

It is also possible to make modifications to suit the client’s needs, like different environmental conditions, inoculum concentration, UV exposure and changes to the standard 24-hour contact time. This allows different conditions to be simulated but in a controlled laboratory setting, thus ensuring a reproducible result.

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