Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) Alternatives for Indoor Grow Rooms

For indoor cannabis cultivators and other indoor horticulture facilities, the decision to use chemical cleaning agent over another includes many factors: storage, cost of scale, ease of use, toxicity, plant compatibility, antimicrobial efficacy, and environmental concerns/regulation. This post highlights the advantages of specially formulated peracetic acid solutions over traditional quaternary ammonias and vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP).

Contrasting Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide

VHP is recognized by the EPA’s common disinfectant and sterilant for hard surfaces. Sterilants eliminate all forms of microbial life including vegetative bacteria, bacterial spores, fungus, fungal spores, and viruses. Many agricultural processes adopt VHP because it’s stable, odorless, affordable, and much less toxic than parallel substitutes. The hydrogen peroxide is vaporized within a fogger, which expel extremely small drops of liquid across wide areas. For thorough dispersion, the room must maintain specific temperature and humidity levels over extended periods. Like phenols and bleach concentrates, EPA best practices recommend that all surfaces require pre-cleaning before VHP disinfection treatments for efficacy against a broad spectrum of microbes. A standard ventilation system is generally adequate, therefore decontamination cycles do not require extraordinary procedures such as facility wide evacuations.

Disadvantages of Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide

The most tangible downsides of VHP include:

1) Room temperature and humidity require tight controls for efficacy
2) VHP cannot penetrate organic plant matter or soil
3) Requires pre-cleaning of all surfaces before disinfection.

The efficacy of VHP is less optimal in cannabis applications, as it cannot penetrate soil nor detritus. Detritus refers to gravel, sand, silt, or organic matter produced by the decomposition of organism. In order to use these systems, the facility must already be scrubbed cleaned and spotless. Cracks, nooks, and crevices are most likely to collect significant detritus represent contamination risks, especially amongst racking, tables, and wall intersections.

Newly developed solutions such as Minncare use much smaller concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (2%), with a peracetic acid content of roughly 22%. The higher concentration of peracetic acid allows better penetration of surface films and organic materials with a faster cleaning cycle time, as little as 1 – 3 hours.

Benefits of Peracetic Acid for Decontamination

Peracetic acid (Peroxyacetic acid) based disinfectants and sporicides are an eco-friendly fungicide and sporicide for indoor horticulture and grow rooms. Autonomous dispersion via a cleanroom fogger reduces cleaning labor, downtime, and does not require evacuation procedures or hazmat controls.

Peracetic acid (PA) is a more powerful oxidant than chlorine and chlorine dioxide. PA dissolves in water, producing hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid, which when diluted with water leaves behind only water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. Over past decades, it’s been applied as a disinfectant for fruits and vegetables, or in the production of medical devices and water purification system. Peracetic acid is a proven solution for terminal cleaning of water delivery systems and hydroponic growing systems once plants have been removed.

Why might a facility deploy systemic stericide such as peracetic acid (PA) for grow room cleaning and decontamination?

  1. Reduce the bio burden of bacteria, yeast and mold on plants
  2. Complete kill of fungus and their spores after batch harvest
  3. Prevents the accumulation of biofilms in the irrigation lines and equipment
  4. Maintains the function of irrigation systems by preventing turbidity related clogging of water lines, drip systems and spray nozzles.
  5. Evaporates completely from surfaces, leaving very low residuals
  6. Prevent harmful residues and vapors with known plant toxicity

Advantages of Minnecare and Actril Peracetic Acid

Chemicals listed as peracetic acid or peroxyl acid solutions are not chemically synonymous. There are many reasons why we recommend Minnecare or Actril solutions, which are produced by Mar Cor (Now known as Cantel). These formulas are proprietary, and manufactured within extremely clean facilities. Cantel formulations provide distinct advantages over traditional peracetic acid solutions:

A) The formula is optimized for chemical stability and safe storage for up to a year
B) EPA approved and registered as a green-friendly product
C) FDA approved for disinfection and sanitization (21 CFR 178.1005-1010)
F) Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA
D) The manufacturing processes is extremely clean and heavy-metal free
E) Conforms to organic handling guidelines

In this case, as single 55 gallon drum would provide adequate supply for a 5,500 gallon water system. Once introduced into a water system at an adequate concentration, the solution is biodegradable and passable to sewer systems. Minncare and Actril evaporate completely from surfaces, leaving very low residuals. Testing has shown that less than 0.5 ppm of hydrogen peroxide remains on the surface immediately after visible moisture is gone.

PAC (that’s us) provides a wide range of chemical agents for unique applications including economical industrial grades, food ready, and high purity grades required by pharmaceutical and cleanroom industries.

We carry specially formulated peracetic acid in two forms, Actril is a highly concentrated solution for large scale water systems, while Minncare is a pre-diluted solution which is deployed within fogging systems or for general use. In a concentrated solution, Actril allows large scale deployment at just one part per every hundred parts of water. 

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Mitch Walleser

Mitch Walleser

Mitch works with manufacturing engineers and product specialists to examine new technology and products. His background includes 3D printing, electronics and cleanroom manufacturing. Stay up to date with new insights on automated production solutions by following on Twitter. @Go_to_PAC

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