Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a small and simple molecule with a formula close to water but having somewhat different properties. Across industries, H2O2 solutions are used in many ways. For instance, in textiles it is commonly used as a bleaching agent, while in the aerospace industry it is known as a rocket propellant. H2O2 comes as a liquid solution always mixed with water. It is an excellent oxidizer making it very useful in the sterile processing department (SPD). Once H2O2 has reacted with bugs and microorganisms, only water and gaseous oxygen is left behind without any harmful by-products. Talk about a clean killer! This same reactivity causes H2O2 solutions to decompose sitting on the shelf. Fortunately, to combat this, commercial solutions contain stabilizers to maintain their concentration during storage. Always follow recommended storage conditions to make sure your product doesn’t literally turn into water sitting on the shelf. H2O2 can be found around the SPD for use in various processes in its liquid form for disinfection and sterilization of surfaces and medical devices. Where we will be starting in this series is identifying key areas of interest with vaporized H2O2 sterilization. But how do we get to this gaseous version of the same molecule? From its liquid state, high concentration H2O2 solution is heated under vacuum to vaporize it for use in terminal sterilization of medical devices. The implications of vaporized H2O2 are many and I’m excited to be your partner in discovering how a simple molecule can change the way we fight dirty!
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