Q-273. Novel Gel Decontamination Technology Efficacy against Dried Bacillus anthracis Spores on Non-Porous Surfaces

Y. W. Choi, W. R. Richter, A. K. Judd, J. V. Rogers;
Battelle Mem. Inst., Columbus, OH.

A novel use for super-absorbent polymers (i.e., gel-forming, cross-linked polyacrylamide) has been shown to effectively inactivate virulent Bacillus anthracis spores. The extensive and costly remediation efforts from the anthrax spore release of 2001 against non-military assets and civilians, along with the problems associated with a battlefield biological or chemical agent attack against the war-fighter, dictates implementation of a novel solution for decontamination of complex surfaces. Although fumigation technologies can treat the greatest volume and liquid technologies provide immersion and coverage, the former is limited to confined spaces while the latter’s weakness is persistence on non-horizontal surfaces and desiccation. Super-absorbent polymers (SAP), commonly referred to as water crystals, have traditionally been used in agriculture and horticulture to retain water in soil and enhance plant survival. They are inexpensive, non-hazardous, possess a shelf-life measured in years, and capable of absorbing 400 times their weight in water. In this study, SAP were combined with commercially-available liquid decontaminants (e.g., hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide) to form a gel that was applied to coupons painted with chemical agent-resistant coating (CARC) and inoculated with B. anthracis Vollum spores (1 x 108 CFU). After contact times that ranged from 5 to 30 minutes, the gel decontaminants achieved up a 6-log reduction in spore viability. This study demonstrates the potential use of SAP to decontaminate biological agents from complex surfaces. Due to the gel-forming and adhesive properties, SAP can potentially extend the contact time of the decontaminant, reducing the need for repeated applications, as well as stick to horizontal, and, the more challenging, vertical surfaces, which would further expand the use of SAP in decontamination applications.