Peracetic Acid Sterilization

Peracetic acid is a highly biocidal oxidizer that maintains its efficacy in the presence of organic soil. Peracetic acid removes surface contaminants (primarily protein) on endoscopic tubing. An automated machine using peracetic acid to sterilize medical, surgical, and dental instruments chemically (e.g.,endoscopes, arthroscopes) was introduced in 1988. This microprocessor-controlled, low-temperature sterilization method is commonly used in the United States. The sterilant, 35% peracetic acid, and an anticorrosive agent are supplied in a single-dose container. The container is punctured at the time of use, immediately prior to closing the lid and initiating the cycle. The concentrated peracetic acid is diluted to 0.2% with filtered water (0.2 mm) at a temperature of approximately 50°C. The diluted peracetic acid is circulated within the chamber of the machine and pumped through the channels of the endoscope for 12 minutes, decontaminating exterior surfaces, lumens, and accessories. The peracetic acid is discarded via the sewer and the instrument rinsed four times with filtered water.

The manufacturers suggest the use of biological monitors (G. stearothermophilus spore strips) both at the time of installation and routinely to ensure effectiveness of the process. The manufacturer’s clip must be used to hold the strip in the designated spot in the machine as a broader clamp will not allow the sterilant to reach the spores trapped under it.

Mode of Action

Only limited information is available regarding the mechanism of action of peracetic acid, but it is thought to function as other oxidizing agents, i.e., it denatures proteins, disrupts cell wall permeability, and oxidizes sulfhydral and sulfur bonds in proteins, enzymes, and other metabolites.

Microbicidal Activity

Peracetic acid will inactivate gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, fungi, and yeasts in <5 minutes at <100 ppm. In the presence of organic matter, 200-500 ppm is required. For viruses, the dosage range is wide (12-2250 ppm), with poliovirus inactivated in yeast extract in 15 minutes with 1500 to 2250 ppm. Bacterial spores in suspension are inactivated in 15 seconds to 30 minutes with 500 to 10,000 ppm (0.05 to 1%). The peracetic acid system was able to completely kill 6-log10 of Mycobacterium chelonaeEnterococcus faecalis, and B. atrophaeus spores with both an organic and inorganic challenge. Like other sterilization processes, the efficacy of the process can be diminished by soil challenges and test conditions.


This automated machine is used to chemically sterilize medical (e.g., GI endoscopes) and surgical (e.g., flexibleendoscopes) instruments in the United States. Lumened endoscopes must be connected to an appropriate channel connector to ensure that the sterilant has direct contact with the contaminated lumen.

Sunday, Nov 29, 2020

Content source:

Peracetic Acid Sterilization- Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities (2008)

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