Q: Why do some medical instrument makers caution against cleaning with cleaners or detergents containing phosphates?
A: This derives from concern over Tri Sodium Phosphate (TSP) cleaners that can have a pH of 12 in a 1% solution, which OSHA, for example, would define as corrosive, meaning: “A chemical that causes visible destruction of, or irreversible alterations in, living tissue by chemical action at the site of contact.”
By comparison, Alconox® Powdered Precision Cleaner and Tergazyme® Enzyme-Active Powdered Detergent, which contain sodium tripolyphosphate and tetrasodium pyrophosphate, are pH 9.5, which is close to the pH of dish soap or other mild household detergents. The phosphates used in Alconox and Tergazyme detergents are far less corrosive than those of TSP based cleaners.
Medical device manufacturers and medical device reprocessors across the globe regularly use Tergazyme and Alconox detergents for manual cleaning of their instruments. (They also often employ Liquinox® Critical Cleaning Liquid Detergent which is a phosphate-free liquid concentrate.)
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