Project Director

Spratt, Henry G.

Department Examiner

Giles, David K.


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This study focused on the survival of different species of bacteria on different types of plastics and rubbers found in healthcare facilities. The gram-positive coccus Staphylococcus aureus and the gram negative bacillus Escherichia coli, known to have importance as potential pathogens in healthcare facilities, were tested on two types of plastic (polyurethane and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)) and two types of rubbers (latex and nitrile) typically found on reusable healthcare surfaces. Known quantities of bacteria were aseptically placed on disinfected plastic surfaces in triplicate, air-dried, and then incubated at room temperature for 30 minutes, 20 hours, and 40 hours. After incubation, samples were collected from the plastic and rubber surfaces using sterile swabs and serially diluted before being plated on tryptic soy agar for plate counts. S. aureus had much higher survival rates, up to 37%, compared to E. coli, which only had survival rates of up to 11%. Both E. coli and S. aureus had the highest survival rates on the PVC materials as opposed to any other material. E. coli showed the lowestmaximum survivability on latex gloves at 6.0%. S. aureus had the lowest maximum survivability on nitrile gloves at 1.4%. The data also shows that E. coli had lower rates of survival at 30 minutes, 20, and 40 hours as compared to S. aureus. S. aureus had lower rates of survival at 40 hours on both the nitrile and latex gloves as opposed to E. coli at 40 hours on the rubber materials. The relevance of these findings is that depending on the materials used in healthcare facilities, there may be better choices of plastics or rubbers to suppress the growth of unwanted environmental bacteria. Additionally, the potential for the addition of antimicrobial chemicals to plastic and rubber materials to help suppress microbial numbers on these surfaces may help reduce HAIs linked to environmental exposures.


First and foremost, I would like to praise and thank God, who has granted countless blessing, knowledge, and opportunity so that I would be able to successfully finish my thesis. I would start by acknowledging and thanking Dr. Spratt for being a wonderful thesis director and guiding me through this entire process. I truly could not have finished this project if it were not for him, and I am truly grateful. I would also like to thank Dr. Levine for all his help with my project. Dr. Levine provided many of the materials used in the study, helped edit the posters I presented, and he conducted the statistical analysis for this study. I would also like to thank Dr. Giles for all his help, especially with editing. I truly could not have finished this thesis if it were not for my family. I am so grateful for all the support and love from my parents and brothers. And lastly, but not least, I would like to thank my friend, Lana, for always being there for me and giving me the courage to never give up.


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Pathogenic bacteria; Health facilities--Materials management


Microbiology, Biology, Pathogenic Bacteria, Plastics, Rubbers


Pathogenic Microbiology

Document Type



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