Within different health care facilities, including in dialysis equipment, formaldehyde is used to both sterilize as well as disinfect equipment. It is typically used in a liquid form in these applications, but it can also be used as a gas if the facility has the appropriate equipment.
Most facilities will use a pre-mixed solution of 37% formaldehyde and water that is marketed as Formalin. This is used to kill fungi, molds, bacteria and other contaminants. It is important to note that formaldehyde itself is a carcinogen, so formaldehyde testing as well as limiting staff exposure to the guidelines provided by the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommendations.
The Use of Formaldehyde in Hemodialyzer Reprocessing
According to surveys completed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), two of the most common uses for this disinfectant and sterilizer are reprocessing of hemodialyzers as well as disinfecting the internal pathways for fluid transport throughout the dialysis machine.
When this is the use, formaldehyde testing must be completed after every disinfection. It is a critical step to ensure that levels of residual formaldehyde are at safe and approved levels.
The Ease of Use for Testing Strips
One of the easiest and most cost-effective testing options is the use of formaldehyde testing strips. There is very limited training required to use the strips, and the test results are accurate when used as directed by the test strip manufacturer.
While each manufacturer will have specific instructions, the general process is to apply a small drop or a sample of the sample to the strip and then wait for a short period, typically two minutes. A comparison is then made to a color chart on the side of the test strip bottle to provide a reading of the concentration of formaldehyde in parts per million.