When deciding to purchase your first hydrogen peroxide vapor biodecontamination equipment, there are many factors to consider. One of these factors involves the type and grade of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) you will use as a sterilant. Hydrogen peroxide comes in varying concentrations and within each concentration there are different grades. They are not all created the same nor will they perform the same and choosing the wrong hydrogen peroxide for your application and equipment can cause damage and affect the efficacy of your biodecontamination cycles.
Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) Concentrations and Grades
Hydrogen peroxide is available in concentrations ranging from 3% to 98% H2O2. The oxidation potential of hydrogen peroxide is slightly below that of ozone and slightly above that of chlorine dioxide. Due to its strong oxidation potential, this is what makes hydrogen peroxide an excellent sterilant. Generally, vaporized hydrogen peroxide biodecontaminaton equipment uses concentrations of 31% or higher. Commercially, 31%, 35%, 50% and 70% are typically used. At these concentrations, there are essentially three grades of hydrogen peroxide: technical, semi-conductor and food grade. The major difference in these hydrogen peroxide grades is the stabilizer formulation used. As a general rule of thumb, technical grade is more stabilized than food grade which is more stabilized than semi-conductor grade. This is important to consider when choosing the hydrogen peroxide formulation you will use for your equipment and application.
Application and Equipment Requirements
In certain instances, the application or intended use of the product dictates the type of hydrogen peroxide that must be selected. Technical grades are typically used as a liquid while food and semi-conductor grades are used either as a liquid or vapor. Additionally, when dealing with food and beverage applications, certain regulatory requirements may specify certain grades and levels of acceptable residuals.
Generally, food and semi-conductor grades are recommended for use in hydrogen peroxide vapor equipment due to their lower stabilizer levels than technical grade. Using the wrong hydrogen peroxide formulation can result in equipment downtime, costly repairs and possible concerns regarding efficacy of the process. Due to these potential issues, most equipment manufacturers offer a proprietary formulation to ensure the safe and effective use of the equipment for the intended application, maintaining compliance with applicable regulations.
In conclusion, vaporized hydrogen peroxide biodecontamination equipment is an investment in prophylactic or remedial bioburden control whether it is done as part of a manufacturing process or routine facility bioburden management. Selecting the appropriate hydrogen peroxide to use with your equipment will help ensure that your equipment and process performs optimally, while complying with laws and regulations.