While sterilizing medical equipment has always been vital to patients’ health and safety, in the age of COVID-19, it has become even more critical. Much of the medical equipment that doctors and nurses use daily are made out of plastic. COVID-19 can last up to five days on plastic surfaces, meaning that healthcare institutions must be rigorous in sterilization techniques.
However, only a couple of sterilization techniques are well-suited to plastic. Read on to learn more:
Ethylene Oxide Sterilization
Many sterilization techniques such as dry heat and steam sterilization require high temperatures to kill the bacteria. However, extreme heat can damage plastic, making these techniques unsuitable for any medical equipment made primarily out of plastic. Ethylene Oxide Sterilization, however, uses ethylene oxide gas to kill microorganisms. The gas is extremely effective in eliminating bacteria, but keep in mind that it is toxic to humans, so it must be used with the utmost caution.
While we usually think of radiation as harmful, in the right circumstances, it can be helpful. By irradiating medical devices using gamma or electron beams, we can kill microorganisms living on our products’ surfaces. While both Radiation Sterilization and Ethylene Oxide Sterilization can penetrate plastic surfaces, the former method is less time-consuming. Just be aware that radiation can cause discoloration or yellowing in plastic products. It can also weaken a product, making it more brittle and less flexible.
If you have further questions on how to sterilize your plastic medical equipment effectively, contact Piper Plastics today.