Hospitals rely on PAA to high-level disinfect medical instruments needed in patient care as well as treat hard surfaces in patient rooms. While the concentration in the PAA solutions used for room sanitation is lower than for high-level disinfection, both applications can result in occupational exposure to PAA vapor.
What Makes Peracetic Acid Hazardous?
Peracetic acid is a strong oxidizing agent, and contact of the more concentrated solutions can cause bleaching of the skin, and eye damage. Inhalation of the vapor can cause damage to the lungs and respiratory system. To help protect workers, occupational exposure limits and safety guidelines for using PAA in the workplace have been developed. At concentrations of 15% or higher, PAA is also highly reactive and poses a risk of fire and explosion hazards if it contacts combustible or organic materials such as paper.
Common Symptoms of Exposure
Exposure to PAA can occur from inhalation or direct contact. Exceeding exposure limits can cause:
- Eye irritation, cornea burns and eye damage
- Asthma, labored breathing, shortness of breath and excessive fluid buildup in the lungs
- Nose and throat irritation and coughing
Skin irritation, redness and blisters (liquid PAA)
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In addition to providing real-time monitoring systems, ChemDAQ is working alongside Leidos, a FORTUNE® 500 science and technology leader, to bring to fruition a first of its kind Peracetic Acid Abatement System to significant reduce workplace exposure to PAA.
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