What is sterilization?
What is sterilization?
Sterilization describes a process that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life and is carried out in healthcare facilities by physical or chemical methods.1
The principal sterilizing agents used in healthcare facilities are steam under pressure, dry heat, ethylene oxide (EtO) gas, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, and liquid chemicals. When chemicals are used to destroy all forms of microbiologic life, they can be called chemical sterilants.
Sterilization means to free an object or substance from all life of any kind. Sterilization isn’t the same as disinfection. Disinfection is defined as the killing or removal of organisms capable of causing an infection that may not necessarily result in sterilization. Examples of disinfectants are phenol, formaldehyde, chlorine, and iodine.
Methods of Sterilization
Anti-static equipment can reduce the accumulation of static electricity on the equipment or your body.
Sterilization can be achieved by a combination of heating, chemicals, radiation, high pressure, and filtration (such as pressurized steam, dry heat, ultraviolet radiation, gas steam sterilant, chlorine dioxide gas, etc.).
Effective sterilization techniques are vital to laboratory work, but negligence in the procedure can lead to serious consequences, and may even kill you.
The heat method is the most commonly used method of sterilization.
The process uses high temperatures to kill microorganisms in the substance. The degree of sterilization is affected by the heating temperature and heating duration. Thermal processes are classified according to the type of heat used, which are wet heat/steam Sterilization and dry heat sterilization.
The heating method provides a reliable way to remove all microorganisms, but it is not always reasonable because it may damage the sterilization material, which is when chemical sterilization methods are used.
The procedure uses harmful liquids and toxic gases that do not affect the materials. Sterilization with gas is effective because it, like steam, can penetrate the material quickly. There are certain risks associated with the chemical method of sterilization, like explosions, and the cost may also be of concern using this method.
Filtration is the fastest way to sterilize a solution without heating. The pore size used in this method is too small to filter microorganisms.
Filters with a pore size of 0.2 µm are usually used to remove bacteria. Membrane filters are more commonly used than sintered filters or Seitz filters or candle filters. It should be noted that viruses and phages are much smaller than bacteria, so when they are in the foreground, filtering methods are not applicable.
In this process, packaging materials are exposed to radiation (ultraviolet rays, X-rays, gamma rays) for sterilization.
The main difference between different types of radiation is their penetrability and effectiveness. Ultraviolet rays have poor penetration, so the effect is poor, but it is relatively safe and can be used for small-area disinfection. X-rays and gamma rays have much stronger penetrating power, so they are more effective for large-scale sterilization. However, they are more dangerous, so special attention is required. Ultraviolet radiation is usually used to disinfect the inside of a biological safety cabinet between uses. X-rays are used to sterilize large packages and pallet loads of medical devices. Gamma radiation is commonly used to sterilize disposable medical devices (such as syringes, needles, cannulas, and IV infusion sets) and food.