An Analysis on Bacterial Growth on Vinyl and Polished Concrete
Written by: Mallory A. Westbrook, Hailey Bennett, Jon S. Belkowitz, PhD
Utilizing flooring with minimal permeability is imperative to maintain human safety by preventing bacterial spread and growth. Harmful bacteria can cause dangerous, and even deadly, Symptoms, to those exposed. Vinyl, epoxy, and polished concrete are frequently used in grocery stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and retail stores due to their durability with high foot traffic. The ability for these surfaces to maintain safe levels of bacteria in conjunction with regular cleaning is dependent on the porosity and permeability of the material. The more permeable the surface is, the more moisture and therefore bacteria can penetrate through the floor and continue to grow and thrive. The goal of this study was to analyze the permeability and bacterial growth in various polished concretes and vinyl flooring. For this project, ASTM C 1585 was performed to determine the permeability of vinyl, 200 grit, 400 grit, 800 grit, and float concrete samples. Additionally, a controlled bacterial growth environment was simulated, and an area fraction analysis was performed on the samples to determine the amount of bacterial growth on each sample. It was found through testing that vinyl flooring is less permeable and therefore optimally prevents bacteria from saturating through the body of the material.
Bacteria growth in flooring of hospitals, grocery stores, warehouses, etc. is extremely dangerous for human health. A more permeable surface is a result of a porous material that is more susceptible to this harmful bacterial growth. To further understand the effects that polishing of concrete and vinyl has on the permeability of the floor, laboratory tests were performed on 200 grit, 400 grit, 800 grit, float, and vinyl samples.
The ASTM C 1585 results showed a significant reduction in absorption of water with the vinyl samples as compared to the float and various grit samples. When compared to the float, 200 grit, 400 grit, and 800 grit samples, vinyl reduced absorption by 62%, 67%, 54%, and 61%, respectively. Additionally, the 400 grit experienced less absorption than the 800 grit or 200 grit samples indicating that there is not a linear correlation between the polishing grade and resulting permeability of the concrete.
The area fraction analysis showed that the vinyl samples displayed the smallest percent of area fraction followed by the 200 grit, 400 grit, 800 grit, and finally float sample. This shows that the vinyl samples experienced the least amount of bacterial growth on the surface. By analyzing the area fraction analysis in conjunction with the ASTM C 1585 results, it is apparent that the vinyl samples prevent bacteria growth at the surface and subsequent penetration through the sample.
In order to maintain human safety in stores and hospitals, it is imperative to minimize bacterial spread and growth. This is done by utilizing flooring with minimal permeability. This research sought to analyze the permeability and bacteria growth in various polished concretes versus vinyl flooring. It was found through testing that vinyl flooring is less permeable and therefore optimally prevents bacteria from saturating through the body of the material. This was shown through the absorption of moisture through the body of the sample as well as the bacterial growth found at the surface. Further, it was found that the grit at which concrete is polished does not have a correlated impact on absorption or bacterial growth. Therefore, it was found that vinyl floorings systems are more resistant to bacterial growth than concrete flooring.