H2O2 Sterilizer Leaks Risk Workers Health

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Chemical sterilizers should not leak toxic vapors, but sometimes they do.

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1. C hemDAQ Inc. • 300 Business Center Drive • Pittsburgh, PA • 15205 phone 412.787.0202 • fax 412.788.2526 Hydrogen Peroxide Lea k s from Gas Sterilizers Risk Workers Health A recent study commissioned by Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP) provide s data showing that the STERIS Corporation’s V - Pro ® sterilizer is prone to elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide emissions. STERIS cites a study 1 in Japan that shows elevated emissions from ASP’s sterilizers. The take away message from both m anufacturers’ is that while chemical sterilizers should not leak toxic vapor s, they sometimes do. C hemical gas sterilants and high level disinfectant s (HLDs) are designed to destroy a wide range of microbial life and everyone agrees that even small vapor leaks can be harmful to workers i f exposed. The p otential impact of workplace chemical exposures on reproduction and development is a significant concern. 2 The concern involves not only exposures of pregnant women but also of male and female workers prior to conception. Furthermore, because children can be exposed to chemicals via breast milk, the period of concern for developmental toxicity does not cease at birth. Mod ern sterilization and high level disinfection equipment is designed and built to very high standards . However, leaks can and do occur due to normal wear and tear , equipment failure and human error . Equipme n t failure may be with the sterilization equipment itself or ancillary equipment such as exhausts or ventilation. Many sterilant chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide have essentially no odor and so a worker ’ s sense of smell is an unreliable means to detect if there is a chemical vapor leak. It is ChemDAQ’s Strong belief that all equipment that employs chemical sterilants and high level disinfectants should be monitored to ensure worker safety . There are three additional benefits of installing a continuous gas monitoring system. 1) In addition to improved safety, rising emissions may be the f irst sign that maintenance is needed , thus enabling proactive maintenance to be performed . 2) Many organizations have found that an emphasis o n worker safety improves productivity, and patient safety , 3 a nd 3) G as monitoring also answer s the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard’s requirement of training employees to ‘ detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area ’. 4 Without the use of a reliable , continuous gas monitor it is difficult to detect the presence of hydrogen peroxide vapor, until it is far above the occupational exposure limit. If you use chemical sterilants or HLDs and would like information abou t how to keep your people safe, please go to www.chemdaq.com or call us at 412 - 787 - 0202. 1 http://wfhss.com/html/conf/wfhss - conference - 2012/lectures/wfhss_conf20121121_lecture_sp_s702_en.pdf 2 “Do OELs Really Protect Workers from Reproductive and Developmental Effects”, T. Lewandowski, D. Dodge, Synergist (AIHA), June/July 2016, p 22. 3 Joint Commission Report “Improving Patient and Worker Safety, Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration and Innovation, 2012; http://ehstoday.com/safety - leadership - conference - 2015/safety - productivity 4 29 CFR 1910.1200(h)(3)(i).


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