In healthcare environments, ATP is good in that it's quick but bad in that it's not a great indicator of microbial risk (counts both live and dead bacteria, doesn't differentiate pathogens from non-pathogens). Counting of bacterial colony forming units (CFUs) is good in that it's a great indicator of microbial risk (counts only viable organisms, and selective agars can differentiate pathogens/indicators from non-pathogens easily) but bad in that it takes at least a day while you wait for colonies to grow, and then you're stuck with contaminated and potentially hazardous agar plates to dispose of.
Using these methods in a complementary fashion makes sense – ATP as a general barometer of cleaning and hygiene, and Bacterial Counts for checking for levels of specific microbes.
Pros and Cons of ATP vs. Bacterial Counts - The Need for Complementary Measurement Strategies: Created on October 10th, 2008. Last Modified on October 10th, 2008
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