With advances in sterilization and re-processing technology, technicians are now processing equipments and instruments multiple times per day, with more concentrated sterilant than ever before. This increase in concentration and use also increases the wear and tear on sterilizers and re-processors and increases the potential for exposure. Therefore, understanding and monitoring vapor levels in the air should be part of any department's essential safety practice. Ethylene Oxide, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Peracetic Acid all have Occupational Exposure Limits. They are used because they effectively kill bacteria, but also pose a risk to those that work with these chemicals daily. The best way to ensure the safety of staff is to ensure harmful vapors in the air stay below national exposure guidelines.
Adding continuous monitoring to your Quality Control (QC) program provides another layer of safety and validation. Just like equipment must be revalidated after an aborted cycle, monitoring the air allows for process and quality control.
Don't know what chemicals are used in your sterilizers or high-level disinfectant equipment?
Here is a quick, high-level guide with some of the most common brands and chemicals used in them.
|Company||Low-Temp Sterilizer||Chemical Biocide||Source Concentration (w/w)|
|Johnson & Johnson (ASP)||Sterrad||Hydrogen Peroxide||58-95%|
|Steris||Amsco Eagle 3017||Ethylene Oxide||100%|
|3M||Steri-vac 5XL. 8XL||Ethylene Oxide||100%|
|3M||Steri-vac GS Series||Ethylene Oxide||100%|
Something very important to note – many people believe the myth that the hydrogen peroxide used in low-temperature sterilizers is the same as the hydrogen peroxide you can get at the grocery store. Unfortunately, this is not true. The concentration in the sterilizers can go as high as 95% – much higher and more dangerous than the hydrogen peroxide from the grocery store (~3%).
High-Level Disinfection Equipment Brands and Chemicals
|Company||High-Level Disinfection||Chemical Biocide||Source Concentration (w/w)|
|Steris||System 1e||Peracetic Acid||35.50%|