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Cleaning Agents vs Refrigerator Coils

According to the CDC, approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infection (HAIs) are documented each year. These are responsible for 99,000 deaths and an estimated $20 billion in healthcare costs. Therefore, keeping hospitals and pharmacies clean is a crucial to prevent the spread of infection. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) creates standards for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries to help standardize the quality of medication and healthcare.

One of the USP standards, USP 797, sets requirements for sanitation in areas that are used for compounding medications or “IV adds” in sterile environments, such as clean rooms. This includes cleaning refrigerators or incubators that are used in those areas. The standards are in the process of being updated, with new cleaning agents being recommended for use. Since Powers Scientific provides pharmacy refrigerators to hospitals across the country, our chambers have been encountering various cleaning materials recommended by the regulations.

The recommended cleaning agents include 70% isopropyl alcohol, as well as various products containing bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or ammonia. A notable thing about these products is that other than 70% isopropyl alcohol, the recommended cleaning products can be corrosive to copper and/or aluminum. This represents a potential problem: refrigerator evaporator coils are often made of copper with aluminum fins, including most pharmacy refrigerators. While our installation and service manual specifies that pharmacy and other refrigerators should be unplugged and sanitized only with 70% isopropyl alcohol, not everyone on a hospital’s cleaning staff might be familiar with that recommendation.

To protect copper cooling coils in our pharmacy refrigerators from possible exposure to corrosive cleaning agents (and subsequent loss of temperature control due to pinhole leaks), we now electro-statically coat them, for hospital applications. The e-coated coils are dipped 5 times, which adds years to the life of the refrigeration system and the reliability of our products.

For more information on Powers Scientific refrigerators, such as our laboratory refrigerators, pharmacy refrigerators, and 2-8°C constant temperature refrigerators, see our product pages. For pricing information, fill out our contact form or call us at (800) 998-0500.