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Room temperature sterilization of surfaces and fabrics with a One Atmosphere Uniform Glow Discharge Plasma

  • K Kelly-Wintenberg
  • T C Montie
  • C Brickman
  • J R Roth
  • A K Carr
  • K Sorge
  • L C Wadsworth
  • P P Y Tsai

We report the results of an interdisciplinary collaboration formed to assess the sterilizing capabilities of the One Atmosphere Uniform Glow Discharge Plasma (OAUGDP). This newly-invented source of glow discharge plasma (the fourth state of matter) is capable of operating at atmospheric pressure in air and other gases, and of providing antimicrobial active species to surfaces and workpieces at room temperature as judged by viable plate counts. OAUGDP exposures have reduced log numbers of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, and endospores from Bacillus stearothermophilus and Bacillus subtilis on seeded solid surfaces, fabrics, filter paper, and powdered culture media at room temperature. Initial experimental data showed a two-log10 CFU reduction of bacteria when 2 × 102 cells were seeded on filter paper. Results showed ≥3 log10 CFU reduction when polypropylene samples seeded with E. coli (5 × 104) were exposed, while a 30 s exposure time was required for similar killing with S. aureus-seeded polypropylene samples. The exposure times required to effect ≥6 log10 CFU reduction of E. coli and S. aureus on polypropylene samples were no longer than 30 s. Experiments with seeded samples in sealed commercial sterilization bags showed little or no differences in exposure times compared to unwrapped samples. Plasma exposure times of less than 5 min generated ≥5 log10 CFU reduction of commercially prepared Bacillus subtilis spores (1 × 106); 7 min OAUGDP exposures were required to generate a ≥3 log10 CFU reduction for Bacillus stearothermophilus spores. For all microorganisms tested, a biphasic curve was generated when the number of survivors vs time was plotted in dose-response cures. Several proposed mechanisms of killing at room temperature by the OAUGDP are discussed.

Keywords: One Atmosphere Uniform Glow Discharge Plasma; sterilization; Staphylococcus aureus; Escherichia coli; bacterial spores 

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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • K Kelly-Wintenberg
    • 1
  • T C Montie
    • 1
  • C Brickman
    • 1
  • J R Roth
    • 2
  • A K Carr
    • 2
  • K Sorge
    • 2
  • L C Wadsworth
    • 3
  • P P Y Tsai
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USAUS
  2. 2.UTK Plasma Science Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USAUS
  3. 3.Department of Textiles and Interior Design, and UTK Textiles and Nonwovens Development Center (TANDEC), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USAUS

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