Feb 14, 2020
In today’s world, we’re at odds with bacteria and viruses that can cause harm to both humans and animals. The gamma sterilization process uses Cobalt 60 radiation to kill microorganisms on a variety of different products. Processing with gamma irradiation yields a quick turnaround time, easily penetrating packaging and product, and is ideal for many types of materials. The radioisotope cobalt 60 is the energy source for gamma irradiation sterilization, with the irradiation process taking place in a specially designed cell. A key characteristic of gamma irradiation is high penetration capability. This enables moderately dense or sealed products to be processed with relative ease and facilitates the treatment of the palletized products.
The unit of absorbed dose is kiloGray, expressed as kGy. The absorbed dose is determined by product density, pack size, dose rate, exposure time, and to some degree by plant design. The typical exposure level used for gamma sterilization kGy is 25-45kGy. At 45kGy, most high-frequency (HF) RFID tags are rendered useless, and no data can be retrieved. Using a different structure for the RFID chip and circuit, a company can sterilize with the same RFID packaging. With the HF version, you need to let the chip regenerate over a period of several weeks, if at all making this an expensive process as a new tag is generally required.
The treatment of medical devices by gamma processing has been one of the principal sterilization methods since introducing single-use, sterile, disposable medical devices in the 1960s. This simple, proven process is safe, reliable, and highly effective at treating single-use medical devices. With the ability to penetrate products while sealed in their final packaging, gamma irradiation supports the manufacturing and distribution process by facilitating the final packaged product and raw materials whilst still ensuring the full sterility of the product.
The gamma process can effectively sterilize various products composed of different materials with varying densities, configurations, and orientations. Some examples of products processed include animal husbandry, archives, combination drug/device products, cosmetics and toiletries, food (meat and vegetables), horticultural supplies, medical devices, packaging, and pharmaceuticals. When sterilized with gamma rays, the bacteria like e-coli are killed off; however, the actual nutrients of food products aren’t harmed, along with the laundry in hospitals.
Gamma Processing Cycle
The product arrives on a truck and is unloaded at the processing facility. It’s then received by lot and product code entered into the sterilization operations management system, which provides run generation, scheduling, processing, certification, and release of the product for shipment. The product is loaded into the processing container per established configurations, dosimeters are placed, and the product is exposed to the radiation field. Dosimeters are analyzed after gamma irradiation of the product is complete to confirm that the required dose has been delivered. All documentation and processing history records are reviewed, and if they’re acceptable and customer specifications are met, the product is released and shipped for use or further distribution.
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