Risk Insight: COVID-19 Surface Contamination-Clearance Sampling Guidance Criteria

COVID-19, Property & Casualty, Risk

As organizations begin to think about their return to work strategy, surface contamination/clearance sampling is a consideration that should be taken into account in regards to the safety of the facility for employees.

The purpose of this guidance is to provide information regarding surface sampling procedures and best practices relative to identifying the presence of COVID-19 on various surfaces. Additionally, swab sampling should only be conducted to confirm the effectiveness of cleaning/disinfection measures taken or post-clearance analysis following decontamination. The laboratory results will only identify the presence of COVID-19 and will NOT determine viability. Results will indicate either POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.

Sampling Best Practice Procedures


COVID19 Surface Testing Swab

Surface swab (similar to a cotton swab) and disposable gloves (e.g. nitrile or neoprene)

Steps (in order):

  1. Wash hands thoroughly
  2. Put on disposable gloves
  3. Remove swab for collection tube and swab surface or surfaces in question with moderate pressure using “S” shaped strokes.
  4. Return swab to collection tube, seal, and label properly
  5. Remove/dispose of gloves and REPEAT steps 1-4 on other surfaces as needed
  6. Complete chain of custody and return to laboratory OVERNIGHT delivery


Sampling strategy is a critical consideration. For example, if using one swab to sample multiple surfaces and laboratory results are POSITIVE, it will be unclear if all surfaces were contaminated or a specific surface. Therefore, collecting one sample per surface is best practice to more accurately characterize contamination and cleanliness. Consultation with a qualified professional is recommended such as a certified industrial hygienist (CIH) or infection control specialist when developing sampling protocol and strategy.

Laboratory Resources:

Hayes Microbial Consulting

Analysis Pricing: $165 per sample

Analysis Turn-Around-Time: 72 hours upon receipt. No rush turn-around available.

Lab Contact:

Dan Thomason – Director of Sales
Phone: 804-562-3435

Eurofins EMLab P&K laboratories

General Surface Test (detects variety of coronaviruses): $150/sample for 2-day turn-around and $225 for 1-day turn around

COVID-19 Specific Surface Test: $200/sample for 2-day turn around and $300/sample for next day

M3 Insurance Contact:

Paul Klein – Senior Risk Manager, CIH, CSP
Phone: 608-288-2843


Surface sampling can provide valuable information to assist in identifying the presence of COVID-19 within facilities. Sampling should only be performed to confirm if cleaning was effective or for post clearance sampling following decontamination. Thoughtful consideration determining your sampling strategy is a key factor if using surface sampling as a part of your comprehensive COVID-19 risk management approach.

Contact your M3 Account Executive or our in house certified industrial hygienist (CIH) for additional consultation.

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