Moist Heat Disinfection and Revisiting the A0 Concept

Biomed Instrum Technol. 2016 Apr 2:50 Suppl 3:19-26. doi: 10.2345/0899-8205-50.s3.19.


Moist heat is employed in the medical device, pharmaceutical, and food processing industries to render products and goods safe for use and human consumption. Applications include its use to pasteurize a broad range of foods and beverages, the control of microbial contamination of blood products, and treatment of bone tissue transplants and vaccines. In the pharmaceutical industry, water heated to 65°C to 80°C is used to sanitize high-purity water systems. In healthcare, it has been employed for decades to disinfect patient care items ranging from bedpans to anesthesia equipment. There is a good understanding of the conditions necessary to achieve disinfection of microorganisms at temperatures ranging from 65°C to 100°C. Based on this information, the efficacy of moist heat processes at a range of exposure times and temperatures can be quantified based on mathematical models such as the A0 calculation. While the A0 concept is recognized within the European healthcare community, it has yet to be widely adopted within the United States. This article provides information regarding the A0 concept, a brief overview of the classification of thermal disinfection for use with healthcare applications within the United States, and recent data on reinvestigating the thermal disinfection of a selected panel of microorganisms and a mixed culture biofilm.

MeSH terms

  • Disinfection*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans