The Safe Use of Peracetic Acid in the Proteins Industry
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The Safe Use of Peracetic Acid in the Proteins Industry

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The Safe Use of Peracetic Acid in the Proteins Industry

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The Safe Use of Peracetic Acid in the Proteins Industry

2/1/2017Richard Warburton, Ph.D. and Lisa McCombie, MBA


Objectives to educate listeners on:

Advantages and uses of PAA Best practices and recommendations on how to use PAA safely

Current and proposed exposure limits for PAA and health risks




The use of PAA spans many industries due to it’s effectiveness

Industries include: Meat and poultry production, aseptic packaging, fruits and vegetables, healthcare, water treatment, and cooling water Use of PAA as an antimicrobial/biocide in the proteins market has surgedAdvantages over competing chemistries includeBetter antimicrobial propertiesNo harmful residuesLeaving no harmful residue allows direct application to the meat This enables export of product to countries such as China, the EU and Russia (at least before Crimea was annexed.)


PAA forms an equilibrium mixture with Hydrogen Peroxide and Acetic Acid

PAA also known as peroxyacetic (CH3C(O)OOH), is an organic peroxyacid that forms an equilibrium mixture with hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid.PAA is a strong oxidant and is very reactive, making it a great biocideIt also breakdowns quickly after contact with meats or the environment – not as fast in the airIt forms oxygen, water, and a very dilute acetic acid (the acid in vinegar)This makes this compound very appealing to the USDA and EPA


Microbiocidal Activity

PAA will inactivate gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, fungi, and yeasts in <5 minutes at <100 ppm. In the presence of organic matter, 200-500 ppm is required.Bacterial spores in suspension are inactivated in 15 seconds to 30 minutes with 500 to 10,000 ppm (0.05 to 1%).

For viruses, the dosage range is wide (12 -2250 ppm), with poliovirus inactivated in yeast extract in 15 minutes with 1500 to 2250 ppm.



Bacterial spores




What are the exposure limits pertaining to PAA?

AEGL’s – Acute Exposure Guidelines (US-EPA) for emergency respondersACGIH STEL-TLV - 0.4 ppm (15 min TWA)NIOSH IDLH- proposed 0.55 ppm (under review)OSHA can use any and all of the above to cite employers under the General Duty Clause (Sec. 5 of the 1970 Occupational Health and Safety Act).


PAA health hazards

PAA can affect you when inhaled PAA is a HIGHLY CORROSIVE CHEMICAL and contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes leading to eye damage.Breathing PAA can irritate the nose and throat. Breathing PAA can irritate the lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath.High or repeated exposure may affect the liver and kidneys



PAA Fact Sheet




What causes chemical exposure in meat and poultry plants?

Chemical dosing errorsAir handling: Unbalanced air pressureInadequate ventilation & extractionChemical storage leaksNormal wear and tearEquipment malfunctionChemical pumps/ Supply line leaksHuman Error


Exposure examples

Plants using PAA sprayers tend to have higher vapor concentrations for example it is not uncommon to measure about 1 ppm near a beef carcass sprayer. Often higher concentrations of PAA vapor are found near PAA mixing stations and so these should be outside or very well ventilated. PAA vapor released from tote could have concentrations well above dangerous levelsUnderneath conveyers tend to have higher vapor concentrations of PAA


Odor threshold for PAA

Odor threshold for PAA is ~50 ppbCan be smelt at concentrations well below hazardous (0.4ppm STEL)From a safety perspective, PAA has the advantage over chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide which are almost odorlessIf there are high concentrations of PAA people are usually aware People’s noses cannot detect whether the exposure is above or below the STEL TLV. Olfactory fatigue can occurHow do you know you’re safe?Best method to ensure safety is to use a continuous area monitor for PAA combined with a portable monitor for daily analysis.



What are the Business Risks

Lost productionStop processing line - leaks that remain undetected until workers affected – too lateReduced productivityWorker distraction/complaints that aren't addressed Productivity loss due to symptoms/IllnessLost revenue due to reduced capacity Damage to your brandRegulatory citations AND monetary fines




Peracetic Acid Vapor Monitoring Recommendations

It is highly recommended to use a combination of continuous fixed area monitoring and periodic spot checking throughout any facility that uses PAAContinuous fixed area monitoring is recommended in the following areasNear concentrated PAA totes/tanks, dilution lines, and pump stationsAny area where employees have experienced symptoms or known risks are present for exposurePortable monitoring is recommended as a daily routine combined with any additional spot checks needed throughout the dayPAA sprayers and dip tanks may put off different levels of vapors each dayIt is important to incorporate vapor monitoring into your QC and safety programCan be used to assess real-time personal exposureFacilities can use these monitors to improve work practices, optimize engineering controls, and/or add PPE as needed to ensure the safe use of PAA


PAA Historical Measurement Challenges

Historically, sensors that measure PAA were unavailable, so people measured Hydrogen Peroxide and Acetic Acid since they have OSHA PELs (Gas detection tubes, H2O2 sensors, impingers)If these levels read OK, then they assumed that PAA levels were OK as wellThis is a problem – PAA is the most hazardous component and needs to be measured specificallyOther methods are extremely cumbersome and do not provide real-time resultsChemDAQ’s PAA sensor does not respond to Acetic Acid and employs patent pending filter technology that prevents interference from Hydrogen Peroxide. This sensor has been independently validated by many of our customersValidation by the University of Florence has been submitted for publication in an international peer reviewed Occupational Safety and Health journalEnviro Tech has also independently validated and has posted their validation on their website


PPE Recommendations when handling PAA

At a minimum, chemical-resistant gloves (Neoprene) and splash-proof eye protection should be worn. Adding a face shield is appropriate if working with larger quantities.  Concentrated PAA should only be handled in a well-ventilated area. Prolonged exposure, or exposure above OELs may require the use of a suitable respirator.Can use the ChemDAQ monitor to determine what PPE is appropriateIf a respirator is used, it should be full face to protect eyesFilter cartridges validated for PAA are available



Storage considerations

PAA decomposes slowly during storage, giving off oxygen, and should be stored in appropriately vented containers. Use in well ventilated area, or preferably outsideIt is also important to use appropriate materials when sourcing dosing or transferring equipment for concentrated PAA. Glass, polyethylene (HDPE/LLDPE) and Teflon (PTFE) are all suitable for handling concentrated solutions. Stainless steel and other polymers should only be used where exposure is short term. Once diluted to the “at use” concentration (usually 100 ppm – 200ppm), most materials except Tygon and rubber are suitable.See SDS for specific info for PAA blend used



PAA spill recommendations

In ALL hazardous material spills, the primary concern is the protection of personnel. The secondary concern is to confine the contamination, but ONLY if you are specifically trained under 29 CFR 1910.120 to do so.Your facility should have its own specific cleanup procedure and all personnel handling such material, should have received instruction on that procedure.Appropriate PPE should be wornYou can use the ChemDAQ portable monitor to assess the riskSmall Spill: Dilute with water and mop up, or absorb with an inert dry material Place in an appropriate waste disposal container. If necessary: Neutralize the residue with a dilute solution of sodium carbonate or other appropriate neutralizer.



PAA spill recommendations con’t

Large Spill: PAA is a flammable liquid, oxidizing material and organic peroxide.Most PAA solutions used in poultry/meat processing are <15% and are not flammable Keep away from heat and sources of ignition. Stop leak ONLY if without risk. Absorb with DRY earth, sand or other non-combustible material. Avoid contact with a combustible material (wood, paper, oil, clothing...). Keep substance damp using water spray. Do not use metal tools or equipment. Do not touch spilled material. Use water spray to reduce vapors. Prevent entry into sewers, basements or confined areas; dike if needed. Call for assistance on disposal. Neutralize the residue with a dilute solution of sodium carbonate. Be careful that the product is not present at a concentration level above TLVIt is recommended to design an area where totes are used/stored to control a spill



Common chemicals used in meat and poultry processing

Peracetic Acid (PAA)


Chlorine DioxideOzonePositives Highly effective as a biocide, high reactivity causes quick degradation to harmless byproducts, leaving behind no residueEffective against a wide range of bacteriaMore effective than Chlorine, leaves behind little to no residueVery effective, leaves behind little to no residueNegativesHealth effectsHealth effects, leaves behind harmful residue, banned in some areas of the worldHealth effects, must generate onsite Health effects, must generate onsiteExposure LimitsACGIH STEL-TLV 0.4ppm NIOSH IDLH 0.55ppm (proposed)ACGIH TLV 0.5ppmOSHA PEL 1ppmNIOSH IDLH 10ppmACGIH TWA 0.1ppm OSHA PEL 0.1ppm NIOSH IDLH 5ppm ACGIH TLV 0.05-0.1ppm OSHA PEL 0.1ppm NIOSH IDLH 5ppm

It is important to note that all these chemicals are used to kill microorganisms, and all can cause health effects. We must focus on improving the


use of




Team up with ChemDAQ and other safety conscious companies for a voice in the industry!

Aseptic and Antimicrobial Processing and Packaging Association (AAPPA)AAPPA was created to fill a need in the food & beverage industry to develop standards and best practices for the safe handling and use of aseptic and intervention chemicals. The organization also responds to proposed regulatory changes that may negatively affect the industry and advocates for sound science in the development of such regulations.


Thank you for your attention!

Please stop by our booth #1214 for more information regarding Peracetic Acid, monitoring solutions, and AAPPA.