BSC bio-decontamination: why V-PHP is a winning technology

V-PHP for effective BSC bio-decontamination

Biological safety cabinets, also called biohazard hoods or BSC, are designed to protect the operator and environment from potential biological contamination. In fact, it is considered a collective protective device.

Reading this article, you can find out why and when it is essential to bio-decontaminate them and why VHP technology is the winning choice among those available.

Why bio-decontaminate a BSC regularly

BSC bio-decontamination is a key process to:

  • protect operators: BSC are designed to provide a protective barrier between operators and potentially hazardous or contaminated materials. However, despite preventive measures, accidental contamination can occur. BSC regular bio-decontamination reduces the risk of exposure to potential pathogens, protecting the health and safety of operators.
  • Prevent cross-contamination: biohazard hoods are used to handle biological materials, including pathogens. Bio-decontamination ensures that potential pathogens or contaminants present in the BSC are eliminated, reducing the risk of cross-contamination between different samples and ensuring the reliability of the experiments results.
  • Be compliant with regulations and guidelines: regular BSC bio-decontamination is often a requirement to comply with regulations and guidelines, e.g. provided by biosafety or health agencies, to ensure the safety and quality of the working environment.

When BSC bio-decontamination is required

BSC bio-decontamination is required in several situations:

  • before initial use to ensure that the internal environment is free from contaminants that could compromise the safety of operators or samples
  • between different uses when handling different biological samples or pathogens of different risk levels to prevent cross-contamination
  • in case of incidents, such as spills or broken containers, to prevent the spread of contaminants in the working environment
  • periodically to maintain a safe working environment and reduce the risk of contaminant build-up over time
  • before any maintenance that requires access to potentially contaminated parts (e.g. replacement of HEPA filter, motor or internal electrical components) and, more generally, whenever it is necessary to open the technical compartment
  • before carrying out the filter integrity test (DOP test): the photometer could become contaminated by drawing contaminated air from the technical compartment
  • before moving the BSC from its installation position: movement entails the risk of losing the structural integrity of the BSC seal
  • at the end of its service life: the BSC must be bio-decontaminated prior to removal from the laboratory to prevent the spread of contaminants into the environment.

In most of the above-mentioned circumstances, it is necessary to be sure that the BSC has been properly bio-decontaminated in order not to totally cancel its safety contribution.

Which method to use for bio-decontamination

You can achieve the effective bio-decontamination using methods that guarantee complete abatement of all possible microbiological contamination based on a worst-case assumption. 6Log reduction of a spore load of the most resistant microorganism to a given technology demonstrates the effectiveness of the abatement process.

V-PHP technology: the winning choice

Vapour-Phase Hydrogen Peroxide (V-PHP) technology, or vapourised hydrogen peroxide, is often used for the decontamination of sensitive environments such as BSC as vapourised hydrogen peroxide offers:

  • broad antimicrobial effectiveness: it is a powerful oxidising agent capable of eliminating a wide range of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and fungal spores; this ensures effective BSC bio-decontamination
  • full action: spreading evenly throughout the environment, it can reach even the most remote and difficult-to-clean corners within the BSC
  • operator safety: after decontamination, it rapidly decomposes in water and oxygen, leaving no toxic residues or harmful chemicals; this makes the environment safe for the operators using the BSC subsequently
  • excellent compatibility: unlike some other chemical agents used for decontamination, it does not damage materials in the BSC, such as stainless steel surfaces, glass or gaskets, maintaining the integrity and functionality of the BSC after the decontamination process.

VHP is a winning choice over other technologies as vaporised hydrogen peroxide is able to bio-decontaminate even HEPA filters, the main location of microbiological contamination.

To prevent spillage into the environment where the BSC is located and used, it is equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. These filters, designed to retain solid particles and aerosols as small as 0.3 microns with a filtration efficiency of over 99.97%, do not retain gases or vapours.

VHP has all the characteristics – gaseous form and molecule size of 0.0003 µm – to penetrate the HEPA filter and thus ensure complete cabinet bio-decontamination.

Are you responsible for a microbiological laboratory, biosafety or maintenance of biohazard cabinet? Do you have to ensure the safety of the users and all persons in the laboratory, as well as maximise the efficiency of cabinet operation by operating in maximum safety?

If bio-decontamination is a topic of interest to you and you would like more information, please contact our VHP expert.