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Norbert Sparrow

October 13, 2016

2 Min Read
Sabic collaborates with maker of disinfectants to study environmental stress cracking in hospital equipment

To prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), hospitals and clinics are using ever more powerful disinfectants to clean equipment. As they should: On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients contracts at least one HAI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, GA). One unintended consequence, however, is the damage done to the surfaces of medical equipment following repeated cleaning with the harsh chemicals. Materials company Sabic (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) has collaborated with PDI (Orangeburg, NY), a supplier of infection prevention products, on a study of environmental stress cracking in medical equipment. The results of the joint study were announced today.

The collaborative evaluation explored the performance of Sabic’s thermoplastics used for medical device enclosures during repeated exposure to PDI's Super Sani-Cloth wipes, a widely used surface disinfectant in the healthcare environment to help prevent HAIs. It is one of the few in-depth studies to explore environmental stress cracking, according to the companies. The study includes insights on the following topics:

  • Disinfection guidelines and the link to compatibility;

  • major causes of material incompatibility;

  • the importance of identifying correct materials for medical device housings and parts;

  • the compatibility of Sabic’s portfolio of chemically resistant healthcare materials;

  • aspects of the application development process, such as polymer morphology, chemical type and concentration, frequency of cleaning and residual stress in molded components; and

  • the crucial value of collaborative input between multiple industry stakeholders, including material and disinfectant manufacturers, to better understand and solve issues in compatibility.

The testing procedure followed ASTM D543 guidelines, and applied more rigorous compatibility criteria compared with frequently used industry benchmarks, according to the companies.

“Preventing HAIs is a priority for PDI, and critical to that mission is helping to ensure medical equipment is properly disinfected and maintained,” said Cheryl Moran, Senior Director of Portfolio Management, PDI Infection Prevention, in a prepared statement. “In order to better understand and address compatibility issues between healthcare devices and surface products, it requires equipment manufacturers, disinfectant manufacturers and healthcare professionals to work together. Working with industry leaders like Sabic allows us to combine our expertise in disinfectants and the healthcare environment, with their extensive understanding of polymer chemistries, part design and molding considerations. The outcomes of a joint approach can ultimately benefit patients by better protecting them from potential harm caused by damaged or improperly disinfected equipment,” said Moran.

Study results are included in Sabic’s updated and expanded brochure, Resistance + Durability: Chemical Resistance Performance Testing for Healthcare Materials. The section, titled “Designing for ESCR," describes why following best practices in injection molding processing and designs can be instrumental in reducing molded-in stress, a key contributor to environmental stress cracking resistance.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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