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Autoclave Testing Program
Autoclaves need periodic testing to ensure proper functioning. Oregon Public Health regulations require that autoclaves used to decontaminate regulated wastes such as cultures and stocks be tested monthly by challenge testing using biological indicators containing endospores of the bacterium Geobacillus stearothermophilis.
OSU Biosafety offers autoclave testing kits to researchers or other users on the campus. The kits contain a vial of endospores, information card and return packaging. Users are asked to bury the vial inside a bag of waste, run it in the autoclave, then retrieve the vial and return it to EH&S for evaluation. A report of the results is generated and sent to the user for their records.
To safely decontaminate solid bagged waste, leave the bags closed and place them in secondary containment so any leaks will be captured. Do not overfill the autoclave with bags; one bag at a time is recommended unless the autoclave is very large. Steam must be able to contact all surface areas of the bag. Use heat tape or a temperature chart recorder to validate that each run reaches the appropriate temperature (usually 121 degrees celsius). For waste bags, usually one hour of run time is required; some campus autoclaves need more time. A dry cycle can be used.
After the autoclave has come returned to ambient pressure, carefully open it an inch or two to allow excess steam to escape before opening the door completely. Use thermal gloves to handle hot materials when removing them from the autoclave.