1991-07-01

Disinfectants for Spacecraft Applications: An Overview 911516

In-flight contamination control has been an important concern of NASA since the first manned missions. Previous experience has shown that uncontrolled growth of bacteria and fungi can have a detrimental effect on both the health of the crew and the proper operation of flight hardware. It is therefore imperative to develop a safe, effective method of microbial control. Spacecraft application dictates a more stringent set of requirements for biocide selection than is usually necessary for terrestrial situations. Toxicity of the biocide is the driving factor for disinfectant choice in spacecraft. This concern greatly reduces the number and types of chemical agents that can be used as disinfectants. Currently, four biocide candidates (hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium compounds, iodine, glutaraldehyde) are being evaluated as potential surface disinfectants for Space Station Freedom. Details are given on the rationale for biocide selection and the environmental and biological factors that influence biocide efficacy. Furthermore, the chemical and toxicological properties of these biocides and others are considered in relation to disinfection of spacecraft and allied hardware.

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