Many of us are unfamiliar with the term biofilm, even though some of us may be seeing it every day. That’s because biofilm is the yellowish plaque that can form on teeth if we have not been brushing regularly. The problem with biofilm on our teeth is that if we do not remove it, it can cause serious tooth decay.
But even though we can see it, that still does not tell us what biofilm is. Here is a good working definition of biofilm:
A composition of living, reproducing microorganisms such as bacteria that exist in a self-made colony or community. The structure protects them and allows them to grow.
As on teeth, biofilms may adhere and grow on a variety of surfaces in residential and commercial facilities. These colonies like moist surfaces, and once they find one, they secrete a slimy, glue-like substance that keeps them attached. They like stagnant, damp locations, because it provides them with the moisture they need for survival. They derive nutrients from debris, soils, and microorganisms on the surface.
Potential locations of biofilm are shower curtains and shower stalls, toilet bowls, and sinks and tiles.
We should add, biofilm can be a collection of more than just bacteria. Scientists report that one biofilm colony may be home to thousands if not millions of fungi, algae, yeasts, protozoa, E. coli, and a variety of germs.
Here are some questions people frequently ask about biofilm:
How big can biofilm get?
Even though they may contain millions of microorganisms, biofilms are usually tough if not impossible to detect when on a surface with the naked eye.
What keeps the biofilm colony together?
The microorganisms in the colony release a substance that not only covers the colony, holding it together, but makes it very resistant to attacks and, what we also need to know, hard to remove. More about this later.
Are biofilms bad?
The answer is that biofilm can be both good and bad.
Biofilm has been used for more than a century to help treat water and wastewater. Engineers have used biofilm to “consume” toxic contaminants released into the soil. Also, biofilm is used to break down hazardous waste.
However, biofilm has also been connected to many infections and diseases, including the 1976 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a Philadelphia convention. The source of the illness, public health officials later uncovered, was in the cooling towers of the air-conditioning units. That was where biofilm had been growing. The germs and bacteria in the biofilm became airborne and were inhaled by people attending the convention.
It is also a constant concern in medical facilities. Thousands of deaths each year are attributed to biofilm-related infections.
On a surface, are they easy to remove?
No. According to the CDC, bacteria living in biofilm can be 1,000 times harder to eliminate than other bacteria. Using traditional cleaning methods, even with scrubbing and the use of powerful traditional cleaners and disinfectants, biofilm can be hard to remove.
How can ProNatural Brand’s Biofilm Remover help?
Our Biofilm Remover is proving to be transformational when it comes to removing biofilm from an array of surfaces. When used as instructed, the product helps loosen and dissolve biofilm so that it can be wiped away. No scrubbing is needed, nor is it recommended. Plus, the product is phosphate-free, non-corrosive, biodegradable, and made from ingredients that are naturally derived — all you need to clean naturally.
There is one more thing we should point out about biofilm. Biofilm costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year in equipment damage, product and surface contamination, and medical infections. If found or suspected in your facility, it’s best to have it removed as quickly as possible.
Lee Chen is President and COO of ProNatural Brands, LLC, manufacturers of natural, sustainable cleaning solutions designed to protect human health and the environment.