Microbial identification and trending with ATP Test Kits

Our LifeCheck ATP test kit is a simple field test that detects the overall population of microbes by measuring the metabolic activity a molecule (living cell) called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. This molecule is related to energy production and is present in all living cells. The LifeCheck ATP test kit uses a reaction that generates light when ATP is present, and is easily measured with a simple tool in the field. By measuring the ATP content of a sample, you can assess the total life within that sample. The ATP value is then converted to a microbial equivalent (ME) or microbes per fluid volume. The ME provides a universal unit, directly comparable to the results of other common microbe quantification assays such as bug bottles (serial dilution log growth), colony forming unit (CFU) counts, microscopy counts and qPCR. All-inclusive results in minutes provide enhanced monitoring capabilities for superior control of microbes in your process.

LifeCheck ATP Test Kits for measuring total microbial concentration

  1. Planktonic Kit: Planktonic is a scientific word for microbes floating in water, so this kit applies to any liquid sample.
  2. Sessile Kit: Sessile is a fancy word for immobile, so this kit applies to microbes that are attached to hard surfaces including metals, coupons, or within a solid sample. The scientific term for these surface attached microbes is biofilm.

OSP’s LifeCheck ATP Test Kits contain all the consumable materials required to run the specified number of tests.

ATP Testing Sample Handling Tips

LifeCheck ATP Planktonic Kit
  1. When collecting the raw sample use a clean container and triple rinse
  2. Complete the field portion of the kit at the sample point to obtain the most accurate ATP/microbial count
LifeCheck ATP Sessile Kit: Coupons
    1. Handle coupons by the edges, it is important to not disturb the surface of the coupon
    2. Place coupon directly into the Reagent X tube with the extraction fluid or into the field container and add the Reagent X
    3. For coupons with high amounts of hydrocarbon present use one of the following options:
      • Hang or slightly shake coupons to allow the hydrocarbon to drip off
      • Lightly run the coupon between thumb and forefinger (with gloves on) (Caution: if sand or solids present this may scratch coupon surface)
      • Blotting the surface of the coupon with clean paper towel may be an option (Caution: there can be free ATP on the paper towel)
      • Set a standard for handling all coupons; this will improve trend data
    4. For coupons with scale, if scale analysis is required remove scale first:
      • Sterilize a sharp instrument (wipe with an alcohol swab) and if possible only disturb one side of the coupon
    5. Notes and pictures of coupons, as they are removed from the system, can help to understand the data generated from the testing. Keep in mind that there are no set rules, but it is important to treat all samples the same.
LifeCheck ATP Sessile Kit: Solids
      1. Depending on the sample you may be able to pick up a small amount with a clean, gloved hand and place directly into the tube
      2. If using a tool or spatula sterilize with an alcohol swab to prevent contamination
      3. When possible get an accurate mass or volume

LifeCheck ATP Test Kit Instruction Guide

Our Instruction Guide is hot off the press and busting with information on how to complete liquid, solid and surface sample testing. From easy to use decision trees to help you better understand which test you need to complete to step by step instructions, it’s all there in our easy to read Instruction Guide. Contact us today to get access to your very own copy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do LifeCheck ATP Test Kits work with produced waters?

The steps of the ATP test are quite simple. First, a sample is taken in a syringe and passed through a filter to remove any debris and trap the cells on the filter. This is followed by a washing step to remove any contaminants and another wash step to lyse the cells. The solution collected after the final wash (lysing) contains the ATP, and an enzyme is added which causes the ATP to emit light which is then measured using the LifeCheck PhotonMaster. The entire test takes about 10 minutes.

Can LifeCheck ATP Test Kits work with solid samples?

Yes, for solids samples we have the sessile kit which has an extra step of mixing the solid with a buffer solution to create a liquid suspension.

What does the result from the LifeCheck ATP test tell us?

The result gives us the amount of total living cells, or how much ‘life’ is in your sample. It is essentially the result of combining all other traditional growth tests into one, with the added benefit of being far more accurate as no culturing step is required. It is an easy and accurate method to assess biocide treatments and efficiency, and for routine microbial monitoring.

What is ME/ml?

It is a conversion from pg/ml to microbial equivalents so you can compare the results to other technology readings.

General Contamination Guidelines for Oil and Gas Applications (Planktonic ATP Levels)
< 100 pg/mL100 – 999 pg/mL≥ 1,000 pg/mL
< 105 ME / ml105 ME / ml≥ 106 ME / ml

Note the results must be taken into consideration with what you see and what the current problem is. The above is a guideline that needs to be adapted to your system. For example, a moderate level of microbes may cause souring in one system, but no issues at all in another. Microbes don’t have a linear relationship to microbial issues, therefore there’s no exact answer for contamination levels. This is simply a baseline to work from.

Within an ATP test, is the accuracy affected based on the volume pushed?

Increased volume or sample size provides a more accurate average of microbial load per ml. There is increased sensitivity when you have a low sample volume. The rule of thumb though is to be consistent within comparable samples.

Do you freeze or refrigerate enzymes?

When you receive the Reagent Z and Buffer, keep frozen until mixing for use. Once you mix and the enzyme is in liquid form, refrigerate.

What are the ATP Test Kit storage requirements and conditions?

When you receive your test kit, utilize the following guidelines for material storage. Avoid usage of expired test kit components.

  1. Reagent Z and Buffer
    • Recommended Storage: 4 to 25°C / 39 to 77°F
    • Shelf Life: 2 years
  2. Reagent Z Liquid
    • Recommended Storage: 4 to 25°C / 39 to 77°F
    • Shelf Life: Note Below
  3. All Other Reagents (X,D, Standard, Rinse and Soak)
    • Recommended Storage: 4 to 25°C / 39 to 77°F
    • Shelf Life: 2 years
What are the step by step instructions to complete LifeCheck ATP Field Testing for a liquid sample?

How do I complete Standard Preparation and Sample Reading in Part B of the LifeCheck ATP Test?

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