Peracetic Acid is a highly corrosive chemical often used in the healthcare industry for instrument disinfection and also for aseptic processing and packaging in the food & beverage industry. Know the facts for worker safety and process management.
Looking for something specific?
Applications for Peracetic Acid (PAA) Disinfection:
- Treatment of bottles and beverage containers prior to filling
- Poultry, meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables and other food items to prevent foodborne illnesses
- Waste water treatment facilities during water purification process prior to discharge
- Fracking, gas and oil operations as antimicrobial
- Eliminate powdery mildew on plants
- Disinfection of medical devices in hospitals and manufacturing
What are the dangers of Peracetic Acid disinfection?
Peracetic Acid safety is a major concern for anyone using it because PAA is corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract. Exposure can occur as contact with the liquid aerosol or symptoms of acute exposure to peracetic acid vapor include cough, labored breathing, and shortness of breath; skin redness, pain, and blisters; severe deep burns to the eyes, according NIOSH. Concentrations of 15% or higher, also give rise to fire and explosion hazards and reactivity issues. It is important to ensure that training and safety precautions for peracetic acid are in place.
Another major concern is that peracetic acid has a vinegar type odor, even at low levels, so the challenge becomes knowing if your level of exposure is safe... whether you smell it or not. If you are working around PAA and do not smell it, it's more than likely it is due to olfactory fatigue. Olfactory fatigue is also known as nose blindness or odor fatigue. While making sure the items you're disinfecting are safe, make sure to keep track of peracetic acid safety where you work.
Eye irritation : eye damage after prolonged exposure
Respiratory distress: fluid in the lungs after high level
of exposure (edema)
Nose and throat irritation
Asthma associated with workplace exposures
Skin irritation dermatitis
Data on animals showed: hemorrhage, edema, and pulmonary consolidation
Regulations/ Guidelines for Peracetic Acid
Exposure limits and guidelines when using peracetic acid disinfection have been set by a number of national agencies including the following. Make sure to follow these for proper PAA safety and training of staff:
OSHA: Occupational and Safety Health Administration
OSHA Hazard Communications 29 CFR 1910.1200
CAL-OSHA: Proposed limits
15-minute STEL of 0.4 ppm
8-hour PEL of 0.15 ppm
JC: Joint Commission
Joint Commission Standard EC.02.02.01
ACGIH: American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienist
ACGIH Threshold Limit Values TLV : 15-minute TWA of 0.4 ppm
: Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrument
Important to note: The constituents that make up Peracetic acid are within themselves heavily regulated, leaving exposure limits and guidelines for PAA only a matter of time.
The regulatory environment concerning peracetic acid is changing. Even if there is no PEL, OSHA can, and has been, issuing citations to employers under the General Duty Clause for employees exposed to vapors above recognized exposure limits set by other organizations.