HALT testing services

In conjunction with HALT testing, we can test medical devices for exposure to decontamination technologies, assessing changes in physical properties of sample material during the test.

All the equipment used in healthcare settings play a vital role in delivering care for patients. These include hospital beds, trolleys, armchairs, critical care devices and other devices such as interactive screens, portable tablets or laptops that are used to make notes and monitor patients’ health. Inevitably, this equipment and devices will become contaminated with a variety of harmful microorganisms and serve as vectors of transmission. Therefore, they must be manually cleaned using chemical disinfectants and detergents followed by the use of modern decontamination technologies such as hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV) and ultraviolet (UV-C) light.

We understand how important it is for any type of equipment or device used in a healthcare environment to maintain its properties after continued exposure to manual cleaning and decontamination processes. Disinfectants and cleaning agents applied, such as liquids, sprays and vapours, may cause chemical damage, and changes in appearance and physical properties, of materials they contact.

At Test Labs we can measure the effect of disinfectants and cleaners applied by different methods, on substrates such as metals, plastics, elastomers, textiles, and coatings. Changes in appearance may be immediately noticeable, and various instruments may be used to quantify these changes by measuring whiteness, gloss, and opacity.

Changes in physical properties are sometimes less noticeable but are important where damage to components causes equipment to malfunction, and changes in a surface coating, resulting in loss of its protective effect. The physical strength and elasticity of plastics and rubbers are measured using a tensile tester, and changes in the surface of polymers and coatings are evaluated by measuring the hardness. Corrosion testing of metals determined the long-term effect of exposure to liquids. Chemical changes in the surfaces of materials are evaluated using an infra-red spectrometer equipped with ATR.

HALT Testing

Our HALT testing exposes materials, devices or entire systems to the most commonly used cleaning and decontamination technologies, in order to assess how they would perform in real-world settings over the course of their useful life. Our HALT testing follows a three-step process. First, we determine the typical lifetime exposure of the product. Then we design a test that replicates its exposure to cleaning and decontamination technologies throughout that time. Finally, we share our results and design a cleaning protocol that fits with real-world usage and the needs of hospitals.

Our materials testing capabilities include

Tensile strength: Tensile testing of plastics, elastomers and textiles, measures changes in the physical strength and elasticity of polymers exposed to liquids vapours and sprays of disinfectants and cleaning detergents. Tensile strength, elasticity, bending and tear strength may be measured.

Corrosion:  Corrosion testing of the effects of liquid cleaning agents and disinfectants on various metals. In atypical test materials are weighed before and after dipping for a set period of time and the long-term corrosion effects are calculated.

Infra-red analysis by fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to study the effect of chemical changes in the surface of plastics polymers and coatings.

Hardness testing of elastomers, plastics, and coatings to measure the effect of long-term exposure to sprays, vapours and liquid disinfectants and cleaning agents.

Changes in the appearance of plastics and coatings are evaluated using instruments for measuring changes in gloss, transparency, opacity and whiteness.

Reporting

At the end of the process, we create a detailed report on the object’s exposure, including a full description of the testing setup and technology we used.

Our test results offer direct applicability to real-life use cases, with no need for complex extrapolations. For example, if we carried out 100 hours of UV-C exposure, that would directly equate to a specific number of UV-C cycles, which could represent a single year’s exposure.

Additional services

Our service can also include carrying out a post-exposure assessment, based on calibration drift values or visual inspection. We can also work to custom test protocols, once agreed with you.

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