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Opportunities and Methods for Using Fluorescent Gel as a Proxy for Pathogen Transfer in Biosecurity Research  Open Access

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 29(1): 57-70. (doi: 10.13031/jash.15253) @2023
Authors:   Anna Warmka, Erin L. Cortus, Kevin A. Janni, Abby Schuft, Sally Noll
Keywords:   Biosecurity, Fluorescence, Luminance, Mass transfer.


While fluorescing gel may evaporate from a surface, luminance of the surface does not change.

Fluorescing gel exhibits thresholds beyond which additional gel density does not increase luminance.

Fluorescing gel only transfers between surfaces when it is wet.

There are limits to relating luminance and mass transfer.

Fluorescent material is a useful proxy for contamination transfer demonstration and research.

Abstract. Glo Germ fluorescing material is a popular tool for teaching and researching contaminant transfer in and out of agriculture. The objectives of this paper were to: (1) quantify relationships between gel area density (mass per unit area) on a surface and its luminance, and (2) identify factors important in measuring Glo Germ gel transfer from one surface to another. Varying densities of Glo Germ gel were applied to paper, plastic, and rubber surfaces; each combination was replicated three times. Digital images collected over one hour were analyzed for luminance (the average gray value per unit area) under ultraviolet light. Changes in mass were also measured. For the gel transfer objective, a fixed weight was placed over varying wet and dried fluorescent material densities on paper and plastic surfaces. Gel masses were weighed, and images of the surface and receptor were taken before and after transfer. Evaporation was significantly faster (p =  0.0019) on the paper surface compared to the plastic surface. The luminance did not change as the gel evaporated from either surface. For each material, luminance initially increased with increasing density until a threshold, after which additional fluorescing gel density did not change luminance. The thresholds for paper, plastic, and rubber surfaces were 0.018, 0.014, and 0.041 g cm-2, respectively. Wet gel transfer test results suggest that transfer is easier to quantify on the receptor than the source. The dried gel did not exhibit measurable transfer. This research found limitations in equating mass transfer and luminance, but luminance threshold values can inform maximum Glo Germ application for imaging purposes. These research results support continued research and outreach with fluorescent material to reduce and prevent the spread of disease or other harmful contaminants in food and animal production.

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