If you want to destroy microbes, bacteria and other harmful contaminants, you sterilize or decontaminate the substance or product. This is particularly essential for health care manufacturing and care facilities. The methods of sterilization tend to fall into one of two major categories: chemical and physical. EO sterilization falls into the former category.
Ethylene Oxide: Description
Ethylene oxide, simplified as EO or EtO is a gas treatment. It is a common method of sterilizing certain products and their packaging. Its compatibility with a large range of materials makes it very suitable for this purpose. It also offers an alternative when sterilization is required but the materials cannot undergo treatment using such methods as:
* Gamma rays
* Electron beams
* Heat – either moist or dry
* Other chemicals
When it comes to sterilizing medical instruments in particular, EtO sterilization accounts for a high percentage of both repeat use and disposable medical devices.
Conditions and the environment for EO sterilization are as follows:
* Preconditioning: In a room separate from the processing room
* Temperatures: between 30 °C and 60 °C
* Relative humidity: above 30%
* Gas concentration: between 200 and 800 mg/l
* Duration: several hours
* Container: enclosed vacuum vessels or chambers
During the process, EO gases will penetrate any permeable material. It can even flow through certain films and plastics.
Following the process, a post-process occurs. This is the aeration phase. It requires a separate room. An alternative does exist. On occasions, the separate three phases may be unified into a single entity.
Ethylene oxide will destroy a variety of microorganisms. This includes bacteria (both mature and spore forms), viruses and various species of fungi including the more common ones of yeast and mold. Since EO is toxic and carcinogenic, compliance with all regulations is essential for the safety of all involved in the process. If everyone adheres to policies, EO sterilization produces products and packaging that exceeds the demands of stringent regulations.
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