What is Peracetic Acid (PAA)?
Peracetic Acid (PAA) is a highly corrosive chemical used in hospital endoscopy, sterilization, poultry & meat processing, food processing, and many other industries. On this page we will cover the chemical properties, microbial activity, applications for use and hazards & risks. If you are strictly looking for the regulations that have been set for Peracetic Acid or the monitoring solutions that we offer to protect employees from over-exposure to PAA, visit one of those other pages. Skip to find exactly what you're looking for with one of our quick links below:
Understanding Peracetic Acid
Peracetic Acid, also known as peroxyacetic acid or PAA, is an organic chemical compound that is used in a mixture with acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide in water. It is a colorless liquid that has a strong vinegar like odor that can be smelt at very low levels. It is a strong oxidant and is highly reactive. However, it breaks down to acetic acid (vinegar) and water leaving no harmful residue, which makes it the chemical of choice when looking for a food-safe antimicrobial.
Peracetic Acid is produced by combining hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid and water. PAA functions as a disinfectant by oxidizing the outer cell membrane of microbes. The more concentrated the Peracetic acid solution, the more effective it is as an antimicrobial, but the greater the vapor concentration and so the greater the exposure risk to everyone around. This highly biocidial oxidizer shows good efficacy against a broad spectrum of pathogens.
Microbial Activity: PAA will inactivate gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, fungi, and yeasts in <5 minutes at <100 ppm. In the presence of organic matter, 200-500 ppm is required. For viruses, the dosage range is wide (12 -2250 ppm), with poliovirus inactivated in yeast extract in 15 minutes with 1500 to 2250 ppm. Bacterial spores in suspension are inactivated in 15 seconds to 30 minutes with 500 to 10,000 ppm (0.05 to 1%).
Common Applications for Peracetic Acid
Peracetic Acid (PAA) is the predominant antimicrobial chemical used in poultry and meat processing. It is delivered in large totes, diluted and distributed to various areas of the processing plant as an intervention to meet USDA food safety guidelines. Learn more about industry regulations on our Regulations page.
The use of sterilants and High Level Disinfectants (HLDs) such as Peracetic Acid present a risk to those people performing these essential tasks. Gas vapor monitoring for equipment leaks or exposure due to work practices is an essential part of the means to ensure that these chemicals can be used safely.
Food Processing and Produce Disinfection
In addition to being effective against bacteria, any biocidal chemical that will be applied directly to food must not leave any harmful residues. Peracetic acid is very reactive and quickly decomposes to acetic acid (acid in vinegar), oxygen and water.
Peracetic Acid or Hydrogen Peroxide is the biocide of choice when it comes to Aseptic Packaging. These chemicals help to extend the shelf-life of low acid bottled products. Peracetic Acid does come with significant health risks, so it is important to take the necessary precautions to keep employees safe.
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