Know the Interesting Fun Facts About Gamma Irradiation

Gamma radiation sterilization, also called gamma irradiation, is a common form of radiation sterilization. It is popularly used across all industries, especially the medical and healthcare industry.

Apart from that, it is widely used in product packaging, reducing microbial contamination and agricultural products. Medical professionals use gamma irradiation to sterilize their protection equipment (PPE), which are widely used across different industries.

They are a form of electromagnetic radiation similar to x-rays that deliver higher energy that pass through tough substances that kill bacteria.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about gamma irradiation, its benefits, disadvantages, procedures and more. In several cases, gamma irradiation plants are the right choice for your medical device sterilization – despite other options such as eBeam sterilization, ethylene oxide sterilization and steam sterilization. It destroys bacteria on your medical devices, but it doesn’t impart residue or radioactivity as well.

What is gamma irradiation sterilization?

Also called the “cold process”, gamma irradiation services sterilize heat and moisture-sensitive devices. It is commonly used in the medical device and life science sectors, which maintains product sterilization.

The procedure also includes stages such as cleaning validation, packaging validation and clean room validation.

You must pay particular attention to gamma sterilization validation, which ensures that the devices maintain sterility and safety as compared to other market devices.

Gamma rays destroy bacteria by fracturing DNA bacteria covalent bonds. Broken or fractured covalent DNA bonds restrict bacterial division, as sterilization happens on a molecular level as the radiation disturbs contamination-causing pathogens and prevents their replication.

How does gamma irradiation happen?

Powered by Cobalt-60, the low-dose gamma irradiation procedure is administered when high-energy photons are radiated from a particular source and ionize the product.

Product ionization disrupts the cellular structure, which destroys the complete organisms at the molecular level and stops reproduction. Eventually, the procedure alters and damages the microorganism’s DNA to the point of its death.

Gamma irradiation plants in India have been commonly used since the 1950s, and are performed in batch or continuous formats. In the batch format, the products are sent to a radiation chamber for gamma sterilization. In the continuous format, the products pass through an automatic conveyor system where it’s exposed to radiation.

From a technical standpoint, gamma irradiation is produced due to the decay of radioisotope Cobalt-60 that results from high-energy photons being an efficient sterilant. Gamma irradiation is expressed in kiloGray (kGay), and a device’s absorption capacity depends on aspects such as the product’s density and packaging size.

Which industries use gamma irradiation?

Gamma sterilization is commonly used in the healthcare and medical industry to disinfect products such as surgical gowns and implantable medical devices.

Going by medical terms, “sterile” refers to being free from microorganisms to the extent where they don’t contaminate and reproduce further. After medical professionals perform surgery on their patients, they need to disinfect their surgical tools to prevent complications and infections.

Gamma irradiation plants also sterilize PPE kits before and after use, which is critical in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is also used in packaging products, pharmaceutical products and packaging, food items, cosmetics, raw materials and agricultural applications. However, you must not use gamma irradiation on liquids and fatty products as they might degrade the product by altering its texture and colour.

Is gamma irradiation safe?

Though gamma irradiation services are internally recognised for their usage and performance, you must consider the safety regulations involved. Some radiation risk is expected if the workers don’t administer the procedure properly, which is why operators and regulators undergo qualifications and training.

They must follow safety regulations, which is why medical product manufacturing is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Gamma sterilization tends to discolour or damage the treated medical product, along with changing its solubility and texture. Therefore, it must be correctly administered in the right places.

What are the benefits of gamma irradiation?

Despite the safety risks involved, gamma irradiation is effective and safe. It is an internationally-recognised standard to maintain sterility assurance level (SAL).

While other sterilization processes take hours, gamma sterilization is performed quickly. It deeply penetrates different items, which makes it suitable for sterilization products regardless of material type, orientation and density. You can use it even after the product has been packaged, regardless of being frozen or solid dry.

It is also a reliable, effective and cleaning procedure for a trained professional, who must regulate the exposure and dosage time at all times. The best part, the items and products treated don’t turn radioactive. As a result, you don’t have to worry about increasing the environmental impact using gamma irradiation.

Disadvantages of gamma radiation sterilization

Gamma sterilization, while effective, isn’t without flaws. Sensitive materials like biologics can lose their potency, and foods, especially those high in fat, may suffer texture or color changes. Liquid products are tricky, and high dosages cause packaging and product breakdown. Though not radioactive post-treatment, the process itself involves handling radioactive sources, necessitating specialized facilities and safety protocols. It’s a powerful tool, but not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Though gamma sterilization comes with its risks, you must use it for your business needs. If you’re looking for gamma irradiation plants in India, please contact us at Symec Engineers.