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About Radiation Sterilization

In many countries radiation processing is recognized as an industry, and irradiation technology finds application in many fields of industrial activity such as goods storage, isolation of food products, extension of fruit and vegetables shelf life, sterilization and processing of medical equipment, polymerization and environmental protection which become a necessary condition of the modern society and industry development.

Sterilization by the means of gamma radiation and high-energy electrons which is called radiation sterilization has been known for about 50 years. When electrons pass through a substance most part of their energy is spent for ionization which leads to microorganisms destruction. As a result the level of pathogenic bacteria and viruses decreases in proportion to a dose of absorbed electron energy. Radiation sterilization requires significant capital expenses but has a number of undeniable advantages in comparison with gas sterilization:

  • Sterilization of products is carried out when they are already vacuum-packed that provides long-term sterility preservation.
  • Packages with the products irradiated with an electron beam don't contain cancerogenic substances as while gas sterilization.
  • Products can be sterilized directly in the boxes which will be delivered to the end consumer.
  • Products can be used right after they are irradiated.
  • Products are slightly heated up and don’t become wet during irradiation.
  • Radiation sterilization does not create related harmful substances in the area of plant operation.

These advantages gave an impulse to rapid development of radiation sterilization, and for the last 20 years its volume has increased up to 50% of the world market of disposable tools sterilization.

According to 2008 report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 40 to 50% of disposable medical products are sterilized by the radiation method in the developed countries. It must be emphasized that for many years of use of medical products radiation processing no consequences of its negative effect on human health or environment have been detected, and in addition processed products can be used right away. This technology is regulated by the International Standard ISO-11137 which is also applicable in Ukraine.

Most often sterilized medical products include: disposable syringes, scalpels, bandages, tampons, cotton wool, blood transfusion systems, disposable gynecologic and urological tools, suture materials, surgical gloves, and surgical clothes.