Monitoring Peracetic Acid in Aseptic Food Production


One of our current customers built a state-of-the-art aseptic packaging facility that was LEED certified, which used peracetic acid (PAA) as the primary antimicrobial for their low acid products. As soon as the facility began using the the production lines, workers began to experience eye and respiratory irritation. The aseptic filling line operated at positive pressure, which increased the likelihood of PAA vapor releases. 

Due to the many complaints, our customer performed air sampling for hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid, the only components with a permissible exposure limit, and found that the concentrations were within safe limits. However, these results did little to help the people working on the lines or give them confidence that the management would or even could solve their problems.

The customer approached ChemDAQ and we supplied continuous monitors for PAA. The ChemDAQ monitors have large, easily visible displays and it soon became apparent that the higher the PAA reading correlated with the greater the eye irritation and nose bleeds.

Having identified the cause of the irritation, the customer was now able to develop a solution. The simplest solution was to increase the ventilation but treating large volumes of air can be very expensive. However, the ChemDAQ monitors include several outputs including relays triggered by alarm levels, (as well as Modbus and 4-20mA). Instead of running the ventilation continuously, the PLC controlling used the output from the ChemDAQ monitor to determine when the air exchange rate needed to be increased, and only then. The result was that the line workers were happy - no more nose bleeds, and financial folks were also happy because the utility bills were kept low.

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