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Medical Housing - disinfectants on medical equipment

Solvay enlisted in the fight against hospital-acquired infections

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The Syensqo company, comprising the solutions, activities and markets represented in the article below, was spun off from Solvay group in December 2023.

Reducing the negative impact disinfectants have on medical equipment 

One of the biggest battles being waged in hospitals today is against hospital-acquired infections (HAI), and a key weapon is the frequent use of powerful chemicals to disinfect the surfaces of medical equipment. But what impact do these strong chemicals have on the durability of the equipment itself? Solvay has answers.

According to the World Health Organization, of every 100 hospitalized patients, seven in developed and ten in developing countries will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection. “It’s to the point that insurance companies are no longer covering these types of infections,” explains Jeff Hrivnak, Ph.D., Solvay Specialty Polymers, Business Development Manager for Healthcare.

“For that reason, the frequent cleaning and disinfection of hospital surfaces has increased, and there are several consequences,” adds Anna Maria Bertasa, Solvay Specialty Polymers, Global Market Manager for Healthcare. “First, it’s not uncommon that different disinfectants are applied throughout the day to the same surfaces. The way these chemicals react can degrade the material they are applied to. Secondly, some pieces of medical equipment are handled by multiple people throughout the day and are prone to being dropped. So not only must they withstand disinfectants, but they also need impact strength.”

Medical Housing - disinfectants graphic

The hard truth

Lower performing polymers such as polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), which have been used to manufacture medical housing equipment and components, fail in both durability and chemical resistance compared to Solvay’s specialty polymers

Medical Housing - hospital monitor

Kalix® HPPA (high-performance polyamide) is an excellent candidate for replacing lower performing plastics because it can often be used by modifying existing injection mold tooling. Ixef® PARA (polyarylamide) is better suited for metal replacement applications that require newly designed molds. Both specialty polymers offer high stiffness and excellent chemical resistance.

Udel® PSU (polysulfone) is a tough, rigid, high-strength, transparent plastic that offers high heat and chemical resistance, making it particularly suited for dental sterilizer housings (pictured right). Radel® PPSU (polyphenylsulfone), on the other hand, delivers the highest performance of all sulfone polymers.

Medical Housing - barcode scanner

“Radel® PPSU is our top-of-the-line polymer, with high impact resistance. It’s ideal for handheld devices, such as barcode readers (above), that are frequently dropped,” explains Anna Maria.

To help customers with material selection, Solvay offers extensive test data showing the resistance of its specialty polymers to a wide range of common healthcare disinfectants.

“We have been in healthcare for more than 25 years in a variety of applications,” explains Jeff. “We offer Solviva® Biomaterials or long-term implantable device applications, medical-grade polymers for medical device applications having limited contact to bodily fluids and tissues, and high performance polymers for medical equipment applications that have no contact with bodily fluids and tissues. With the heightened focus on preventing the spread of HAI infections, and thus the need for higher performing plastics, it’s important that customers are aware of Solvay’s solutions to help them ensure better patient outcomes, no matter the challenge.”