At S.E.P.S., we respect the value of laboratory cleanliness. For years, we’ve made laboratory equipment certification and maintenance a priority. Ensuring laboratory hygiene and safety is a process we’re very familiar with.

We also place a very high importance on the decontamination of lab equipment. Decontamination is the term used to describe a treatment or procedure that renders a lab device, instrument or surface safe and clean.

Lab equipment decontamination is incredibly important. It’s mostly critical in labs that handle biological materials or organisms. Basically, depending on the lab’s biosafety levels, they require varied procedures of decontamination.

So what exactly does decontamination involve? Which instruments should you treat? Below you’ll find some crucial information and guidelines on lab equipment decontamination.

Levels of Lab Decontamination

The varying factors of decontamination range from high-level sterilization to simply cleaning with mild detergent and water. Lab personnel can perform some methods on a casual, routine basis. However, most labs require professionals to properly decontaminate their equipment.

1. Cleaning is the first (and most basic) level. Essentially, cleaning is the first line of defense in decontamination. Basically, this involves any member of staff using soap and water and scrubbing to remove any visible residue. Additionally, even with professional decontamination, cleaning is the first step. Cleaning will remove any soil or organic matter from the surface. And it will also reduce the number of microorganisms on any surface.

2. Disinfection involves the use of chemicals or heat application. This second method of decontamination reduces the number of microbes on an object or surface. Furthermore, while it greatly reduces the number of microbes it does not totally eliminate them.

A disinfectant will limit the number of organisms enough to eliminate the risk of infections. In fact, the surface will not be decontaminated if it is not properly cleaned prior to disinfection.

3. Sterilization is the third level of decontamination. Sterilization uses a physical or chemical procedure to destroy all microbial life. This includes highly resistant bacterial endospores. Basically, the methods used to properly sterilize include heat, gas, steam, plasma and radiation. In fact, the odds of a microorganism surviving on a sterilized surface are less than one in one million.

What Should Be Decontaminated?

When it comes to the surfaces in your lab that require decontamination, the list is very long. However, it really depends on the work your lab does and the materials handled.

Laboratories that handle biological materials should have every surface decontaminated on a regular basis.

These are the items in a lab that require decontamination:

Refrigerators/Freezers

Refrigerators and freezers can (in some cases) be a breeding ground for bacteria or other harmful agents. Before having yours decontaminated, be sure to remove everything from the interior. Make sure your refrigerator is properly defrosted before having it decontaminated.

Biosafety Cabinets

A biosafety cabinet must be regularly decontaminated. You should never attempt to disinfect this unit yourself! Always call upon a professional to properly decontaminate your biosafety cabinet. Attempting decontamination yourself can be incredibly hazardous.

Centrifuges

This is another unit that a trained professional must decontaminate. Additionally, you should develop a routine schedule for decontamination, as the materials within a centrifuge can often be hazardous. Contact S.E.P.S. for more information.

Fume Hoods

Fume hoods use laminar airflow to eliminate toxic vapors and chemicals from the workspace. Therefore, regular certification and decontamination is essential. S.E.P.S. can assist you with both. Keeping fume hoods sanitary and operational is critical to keeping your personnel safe.

Other Lab Equipment Needing Decontamination

Ovens, incubators, water baths, scales, chemical storage cabinets, dehydrating units, and other lab machinery all require professional decontamination

 

Conclusion – Decontamination & S.E.P.S.

At S.E.P.S., we’ve made lab safety and hygiene our practice and our top priority. Decontamination is absolutely essential to keeping labs safe and operational. Some lab environments can present certain risks, and we make it our mission to eliminate them.

worker in coverall gown cleaning a biosafety cabinet for decontamination services