LABORATORY CLEANING: BEST STERILIZATION METHODS FOR YOUR LAB
29 August 2023
Sterilization is a process designed to destroy and remove all forms of life present in a specific area. This is accomplished by use of physical or chemical means. For example, Autoclaves, steam sterilize by high pressure and heat (250°F/121°C at the low end).
FORMS OF PHYSICAL STERILZATION
Many techniques can be used to sterilize surfaces. First, heat and pressure can remove labile substances from instruments and equipment. Biological compounds, such as some proteins and viruses, present challenges during sterilization. Proios, for example, have been shown to resist denaturation by heat and pressure, as well as many chemicals and enzymes. Covalent modification of these compounds is recommended for their removal.
Ionizing radiation (X-rays) is also an efficient sterilizer, acting to release electrons from molecules. Since many transmissible agents require DNA and RNA for their propagation, severing the nucleic acid backbone can be a useful means to reduce their transmission.
Ultra-Violet C (UVC) lamps. UVC rays generated by the sun are filtered out by the earth’s atmosphere; microorganisms have no natural resistance to the damage they cause. When UVC Lamps (280-100 nm) are used for sterilization, they damage cells and disrupt DNA sequencing. This is safe for personnel if they avoid exposure to the lamp.
Chemical Filtration. Chemical filtration of compounds is useful for disinfecting media used in life science research. This disinfection technique typically relies on the exclusion of biological materials based on particle size.
COMMON CHEMICAL STERILZERS
Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is commonly used to sterilize objects that are sensitive to temperatures greater than 140°F/60°C and/or radiation. These include plastic components or supplies, optics, and electronics. High temps can easily damage plastics and optics and render the device unsuitable for its original application. Thus, EtO is commonly used to sterilize durable medical equipment and prepackaged single-use catheters and endoscopes.
Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor (HPV) is another chemical that is effective in removing biological agents from the surfaces of furniture, equipment, and other difficult-to-sterilize surfaces. The ability of the vapor to permeate the desired area can effectively be used to sterilize pass-through chambers and devices used in a hospital or manufacturing environment.
Many of these methods are capable of effectively sterilizing surfaces, they are also used in combination to develop a robust sterilization protocol. While sterilization itself does not require downstream validation for use in a manufacturing setting, it is highly recommended that these processes are closely monitored and quantified wherever possible to ensure safe, reliable results that increase both patient and personnel safety.
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