The leak arose because of an electrical fault in the scrubber and the entire exhaust system shut down, but there was no indication of this happening on any of their screens. The sterilizer was completing the cycle and when they opened the door, the ChemDAQ monitor alarms sounded and they were getting readings up to 50 ppm.
They immediately evacuated the department and were relieved they could see what was happening on the remote video display (RVD) outside the department.
If there had been no monitor they would have not known about the EtO leak and their people may well have been exposed to high concentrations of EtO.
Calls like this show the value of the ChemDAQ system and reminds us at ChemDAQ that our products are designed to save lives.
It also shows that even the best designed sterilization equipment can sometimes fail and that it is important to have a continuous gas monitoring system installed that will provide an immediate alert if there is a leak.
An automated alert is essential with ethylene oxide since EtO has no odor below about 400 ppm far above the OSHA permissible exposure limit of 1 ppm (8 hr time weighted average (TWA)) and the OSHA Excursion limit/15 minute TWA short term exposure limit of 5 ppm [29 CFR 1910.1047].
If anyone would like to share their story about sterilant gas leaks and/or detection of sterilant gases with continuous monitors, please fill out the comment box below.