Monday, June 28, 2021

Decontaminating New/Used Equipment


Facilities are routinely purchasing equipment for their critical environments (laboratories, production rooms, filling rooms, animal holding rooms, grow rooms, etc).  The equipment can be purchased new directly from the manufacturer, or purchased used from a third party.  Hardly any new piece of equipment is manufactured and delivered under sterile conditions, and most used equipment does not come “certified clean”.  This leaves the facility in charge of ensuring that the equipment is clean and safe to be installed in their critical environment.  As it can be extremely challenging for a facility to perform a complete decontamination of equipment, we have been offering our services to decontaminate newly purchased equipment at the delivery location using chlorine dioxide gas, a US EPA registered sterilant proven capable of eliminating all viruses, bacteria, fungi and spores.

Depending on the size of the equipment and its final installed location, decontamination can take place prior to installation in a container or plastic tent, or after installation by decontaminating the entire room.  Decontaminating the room after the equipment has been installed eliminates the risk of recontamination as the equipment is transferred into place, and allows for any pathogens disturbed by the installation process to be treated.  This makes it the safest method, but it can be more challenging and more expensive if the room the equipment is installed in is very large.

To learn more, please sign up for our free, 30-minute webinar on July 15

Monday, June 21, 2021

CD vs VPHP: Distribution Comparison

We have long discussed the factors to an effective decontamination.  They are:

  • The ability of the process to eliminate the target pathogen
  • The ability of the decontaminating agent to contact the pathogen
  • The ability of the decontaminating agent to accumulate enough contact time

 Chlorine dioxide (CD) and hydrogen peroxide are the two most common methods for room decontamination.  Their ability to consistently meet these factors is where these methods contrast from one another.  These differences stem from their chemical properties, as hydrogen peroxide is a liquid at room temperature that is flash vaporized at 228°F.  This differs from chlorine dioxide as it is a gas at room temperatures with a boiling point at use concentration of -40°F.  Vapors do not diffuse throughout a space as well as gasses, making it far more challenging to achieve complete coverage of an area when using hydrogen peroxide vapor.

Hydrogen peroxide manufacturers have classified hydrogen peroxide as being “poor at passive diffusion.”  Studies have shown it having difficulty going around objects within a space, effectively creating “shadow areas” where hydrogen peroxide is either not reaching, or is reaching at lower concentrations.  It also suffers from condensation as typically the environment being treated is below 228 F.  As such, the further hydrogen peroxide travels, the cooler it will become.  As it cools, it will start to condense and become too heavy to stay afloat in the air, limiting the distances it can effectively treat.  Chlorine dioxide being a true gas at room temperatures will follow the gas laws which state that it will uniformly fill up the environment that it is introduced into.  This means that the gas will reach all surfaces, and it will do so at an even concentration.

Logic tells us that a decontaminating agent will not be effective if it doesn’t come into contact with the pathogens.  As the target environment gets larger, or more complex with equipment and items inside of it, hydrogen peroxide has a great chance of failure.  Chlorine dioxide however, is unaffected by temperature, size, shape, and how full an environment is, maintaining its ability to distribute throughout the area and contact pathogens on all surfaces throughout.  This is why chlorine dioxide is able to be trusted for the toughest applications.

To learn more, join our webinar this Thursday at 2pm Eastern by clicking here.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Cannabis Decontamination Method Comparison


As Cannabis becomes a more mainstream industry, regulations will make cannabis production look more like food production each year. Most commercial cannabis grown today undergoes some form of decontamination to treat the industry’s problem of mold, yeast and other microbial pathogens. The decontamination process is in place to ensure that products meet a certain level of safety and quality. Like with produce, some antimicrobial treatments may themselves be harmful to the health of consumers and the integrity of the product itself. Not all remediation is created equally, and sadly, no method is perfect.


An autoclave system uses heat and pressure to kill microbes. They are available in different brands, configurations and sizes. This is an easy-to-use option, but it is time consuming. However, because it utilizes moisture, it does increase the risk of mold infestation. The final product may experience a change in color, taste and smell.

Dry Heat

Placing cannabis in dry heat is one of the cheapest methods, and it does not have any mold or yeast infestation issues. It is important to note that this method would most likely ruin product unless you plan to extract it.


X-ray is a highly effective form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. X-ray wavelengths are shorter than those of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The cannabis is placed in a lead-lined chamber that ensures the safety of the operator during the decontamination process. X-rays are produced from an internal vacuum tube once the lead lined chamber is sealed. The X-rays penetrate the cannabis and kill the microbes. What you are decontaminating is limited to the size of the chamber.

Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet light is a completely chemical-free way to combat molds and bacteria that plague cannabis plants. UV-C is energy from light that has been used to inactivate DNA-based contaminants since the 1850's. With UV-C technology, there is no residual left behind as there are no chemicals involved. The cannabis product is not altered by the exposure to UV light. Any exposed surface contamination, such as molds, bacteria, and viruses, are significantly reduced, if not eliminated entirely. While a quick and easy method, UV-C intensity does drop off with distance, so it is difficult to scale up.

Gamma Radiation

Gamma irradiation involves exposing the target material to packets of light (photons) that are so highly energetic (gamma rays) that they damage the DNA strands present. It reduces microbial growth in plants without affecting potency. However, it uses ionizing radiation that can create new chemical compounds not present before, some of which can be cancer-causing.


Radiofrequency, or RF, uses radio waves to make water molecules within the product vibrate and generate heat to kill microbes similar to how a microwave oven works. However, because it is dependent on moisture, microbes in dry areas of the flower are not effectively remediated, meaning dangerous microorganisms in these areas can continue to grow and spread even after the product has passed testing measures. Radiofrequency may also cause burns on the product, along with potential negative effects to potency, look, smell and taste.


Ozone gas is a highly reactive oxidizing molecule that destroys the microbes’ cell wall, which enables the ozone to destroy all of the cell’s components: enzymes, proteins, DNA, and RNA. It is a true gas which readily distributes. This method greatly reduces the number of microbes but does not reduce the number to zero necessarily, because it breaks down quickly. Ozone at too high of levels, or levels that are not properly controlled, is dangerous to cannabis plants. At too low of levels, it really doesn’t have much of an effect at all.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be applied directly to the product, environment, and supplies through spray, fogger, or submersion to kill microbial life. A mild dilution of hydrogen peroxide and water is also an incredible insect repellent. Hydrogen peroxide may oxidize the surface of the flower which can alter the look, smell, taste and potency of the product. Also, vapors can condense, and the resulting moisture can cause more mold spores to germinate.

Chlorine Dioxide Gas

For a complete kill of all potential organisms, EPA-registered chlorine dioxide gas is the optimal way to fill an entire space evenly and completely, decontaminating every surface, crack, or crevice with no residues or additional cleanup. This treatment can be performed either in an enclosed chamber or easily scaled up to rooms, even entire facilities, if there is a widespread outbreak. As an oxidizer, at high use levels, chlorine dioxide gas can alter the look and taste of the product.

Read more about these commonly used by reading our Cannabis Decon Method Comparison.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Annual Decontamination of Pharmaceutical Production Facilities

Microbial contamination can be a difficult challenge for all sectors of the pharmaceutical industry. The presence of dangerous organisms in pharmaceutical facilities can lead to costly product recalls, which result in loss of revenue, customers, and brand reputation. By taking greater preventive measures, risk of microbial issues can be minimized or eliminated. Measures such as annual preventive decontaminations will help to eliminate the presence of any harmful organisms that would cause such issues. Performing an annual “deep clean” of your facility by decontaminating it with chlorine dioxide gas allows for a true reset to zero pathogens.

Chlorine dioxide gas provides a sterilization level fumigation of any enclosed space with minimal equipment and minimal downtime. True gases such as chlorine dioxide (CD) are the only truly effective agents for the decontamination of buildings, rooms, isolators, and biological safety cabinets as gases offer many benefits over other agents. It fills the space it is contained within completely and evenly, ensuring that no matter how large the target space is, no surface is left untouched including crevices and harbor locations. Chlorine dioxide is safe on materials and leaves no post treatment residuals. CD gas has successfully treated many pharmaceutical facilities to eliminate viruses, bacteria, mold, and beta lactams establishing sterility prior to production starting up as well as re-establishing sterility between batches or studies.

Case Study: Annual Shutdown Decontamination

The Bausch + Lomb Vision Care production facility in Greenville, South Carolina manufactures contact lens solutions in sterile processing areas within a clean environment. Each year, the facility closes for planned maintenance shutdowns. Though necessary, these shutdowns create unsterile environments because foreign equipment, tools, and people enter the clean areas. Therefore, the environment must be cleaned and disinfected before normal production resumes. Previously, this 300,000 ft3 facility underwent three cycles of detergent cleaning and water rinse followed by three treatments with Spor-Klenz. This required over a dozen personnel with mops and buckets over multiple shifts and a minimum of a week’s worth of time. The process was costly (consumables alone cost approximately $100,000) and had inherent failures in the process since it was a laborious manual process. The facility switched to chlorine dioxide gas decontamination. The result was a decontamination cost of under $100,000, a time savings cost of three days, and efficacy improved to a complete 6-log sporidical kill.

To learn more about the benefits of an annual decon, join our webinar on June 24 at 1pm Eastern.