High Concentration Hydrogen Peroxide (H 2 O 2 )

Hydrogen Peroxide is a biocidal chemical often used in healthcare for medical device sterilization and in food processing for aseptic filling/packaging. Hydrogen peroxide is a highly corrosive chemical. Know the facts for process management and safety. If you are strictly looking for the regulations that have been set for Hydrogen Peroxide or the products that we offer to protect all employees from the risks of H2O2, visit one of our other pages. Skip to find exactly what you're looking for with one of our quick links below:

Monitoring Your Environment &

Understanding Hydrogen Peroxide

High concentration Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is a strongly oxidizing chemical that is used as a biocide, chemical reagent, sterilant and bleaching agent. The vapor is odorless and colorless, which makes it impossible to know if you are over-exposure to it, without monitoring. When using high concentration H2O2, it is important to proceed with caution because of the health and safety risks associated with it. The high reactivity of hydrogen peroxide makes the vapor hazardous to anyone exposed to it, but hydrogen peroxide rapidly breaks down in the environment making it environmentally friendly. In healthcare and manufacturing processes Hydrogen Peroxide has the advantage that it breaks down into oxygen and water leaving no chemical residues. Hydrogen Peroxide vapor is the most common form of low temperature sterilization in healthcare and is also widely used in food processing for aseptic filling/packaging. High concentration Hydrogen Peroxide also finds extensive use for bleaching textiles and paper. However, despite its usefulness, H2O2 vapor can be hazardous to workers who are exposed over occupational exposure limits. 

Microbiocidal Activity: Hydrogen Peroxide has been shown to be effective against all forms of microorganisms, including dormant forms with known high chemical resistance such as bacterial spores and protozoal cysts, and also infectious proteins such as prions depending on the specific use of the chemical. The same reactivity that makes hydrogen peroxide vapor effective against microorganisms makes exposure to it hazardous to us larger creatures too.

[https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hydrogen-peroxide]



Applications for High Concentration Hydrogen Peroxide

Odoo - Sample 1 for three columns

Aseptic Packaging

High concentration Hydrogen Peroxide is used in aseptic packaging, which is an essential part of delivering a safe food product to the public. Use of this hazardous chemical in large quantities and high concentration means that it is essential to manage any worker health and safety issues that may arise related to the use of this chemical. 

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Odoo - Sample 1 for three columns

Hospital Sterile Processing

 The use of high concentration Hydrogen Peroxide in hospital sterile processing departments came about as a replacement for Ethylene Oxide. People consider Hydrogen Peroxide safer than Ethylene Oxide, which is not the case. H2O2 has the same occupational exposure limit as EtO and the IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) level for H202 is 75 ppm, compared to EtO's IDLH of 800 ppm.

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What are the dangers of high concentration Hydrogen Peroxide?

There is a common myth that high concentration Hydrogen Peroxide is less dangerous than Ethylene Oxide, but that’s simply not true.  Both hydrogen peroxide and ethylene oxide exposure can have severe effects and consequently both compounds have the same OSHA PEL and ACGIH TLVs of 1 ppm (8 hour time weighted average). As discussed above, hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent, whereas ethylene oxide is an alkylating agent, and this different reactivity means that the NIOSH IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health) for hydrogen peroxide is 75ppm compared to 800 ppm for EtO. Until the mid 1980s, the PEL for ethylene oxide was 50 ppm, until it was reduce the same as for hydrogen peroxide (1 ppm), because of the realization of ethylene oxide's carcinogenic properties. In addition to being an oxidizing agent, hydrogen peroxide can also form free radicals in the presence of trace levels of metals. These free radicals, such as hydroxyl radical (OH) are extremely aggressive and are the reason why Hydrogen peroxide is also a known animal carcinogen, through the degree of carcinogenicity in humans is not known (ACGIH).

Hydrogen peroxide can form a hydroxyl free radical OH. which is one of the most aggressive chemical species out there. This free radical will attack and proteins, DNA and anything else it comes into contact with, and is the reason why hydrogen peroxide is a mutagen. People may have heard of free radicals, because they are discussed frequently in relation to food supplements, but the majority of people have no idea what they are. If you want to see some scary stuff about hydrogen peroxide, read the RTECS sheet from the CDC.
[https://www.cdc.gov/niosh-rtecs/MXDBBA0.html]


  • Liquid contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and damage the eyes

  • Inhalation of vapor can irritate nose, throat and lungs, while higher exposures may cause a pulmonary edema (a medical emergency caused by build up of fluid in the lungs)

  • Exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting 

  • Hydrogen Peroxide is a mutagen - handle it as a possible carcinogen (cancer causing). ACGIH classifies it as a 'confirmed animal carcinogen with unknown relevance to humans'

  • Hydrogen Peroxide is a reactive and dangerous explosion hazard, and a strong oxidizer, which may enhance combustion of other substances

  • Symptoms: irritation eyes, nose, throat; corneal ulcer; erythema (skin redness), vesiculation skin; bleaching hair





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