Risk assessment Risk Management

Methods for Water System Sanitization in the Pharmaceutical Industry.


Water system sanitisation methods in the pharmaceutical industry is important activity ensuring the quality and purity of water used in manufacturing processes is of utmost importance. Water systems must be effectively sanitized to eliminate contaminants and comply with regulatory standards. In this article, we will explore different methods commonly employed for water system sanitization in the pharmaceutical industry, highlighting their benefits and considerations.

Pharmaceutical water system sanitisation methods
Pharma water system sanitisation methods.

Thermal Sanitization:

Thermal sanitization involves exposing the water system to elevated temperatures to kill microorganisms and inactivate endotoxins. This method can be achieved through two primary approaches:

a) Hot Water Sanitization:

The water system is flushed with hot water at temperatures typically ranging from 80°C to 85°C for a specific duration. This heat effectively destroys microbial populations. However, the suitability of hot water sanitization depends on the system design and materials of construction, as excessive heat can cause damage.

b) Dry Heat Sanitization:

Dry heat sanitization involves exposing the water system components, such as piping, valves, and tanks, to elevated temperatures typically ranging from 160°C to 180°C for a defined time. This method is especially useful for heat-stable equipment that may be damaged by wet heat sanitization.

Chemical Sanitization:

Chemical sanitization involves the use of disinfectants or sanitizing agents to eliminate microorganisms and biofilm. Commonly used chemicals include:

a) Chlorine-based Compounds:

Chlorine-based compounds, such as chlorine dioxide, sodium hypochlorite, or chloramine, are effective in controlling microbial growth. They can be applied as intermittent shock treatments or continuously dosed in the water system. Care must be taken to monitor residual levels and ensure compatibility with the system materials.

b) Peroxide-based Compounds:

Hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid solutions are frequently used for sanitization. These compounds offer broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity and are considered environmentally friendly. However, they can be corrosive and require careful handling and monitoring of residual levels.

c) Quaternary Ammonium Compounds:

Quaternary ammonium compounds, such as benzalkonium chloride, are commonly used for surface disinfection. They can also be employed for water system sanitization, particularly in clean-in-place (CIP) systems. It is crucial to ensure adequate contact time for effective disinfection.

Ultraviolet (UV) Irradiation one of the pharmaceutical water system sanitisation methods:

UV irradiation involves the use of UV light to destroy microorganisms by damaging their DNA. This method is commonly used in conjunction with other sanitization approaches or as a continuous treatment option. UV systems are installed in water loops, and the water is exposed to UV light as it passes through. UV irradiation is effective against a wide range of microorganisms but does not eliminate endotoxins or remove particles from the water.

Considerations for Water System Sanitization:

When selecting pharmaceutical water system sanitisation methods consider the following factors:

System Design and Materials: The method chosen should be compatible with the water system’s design, materials of construction, and components. Some sanitization methods may be more suitable for specific systems, such as stainless steel or glass-lined equipment.

Water Quality Requirements: Consider the required water quality standards, including microbial control, endotoxin levels, and particulate matter. Ensure that the chosen method is effective in achieving the desired water quality.

Validation and Monitoring: Implement validation studies to determine the effectiveness of the chosen sanitization method. Develop a robust monitoring program to regularly assess the water system’s microbial and chemical parameters to ensure ongoing control.

Regulatory Compliance: Adhere to regulatory guidelines, such as those provided by the FDA, EMA, or other relevant authorities, to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulatory requirements.


Effective water system sanitization is vital for maintaining the quality and purity of water used in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes. Thermal sanitization, chemical sanitization, and UV irradiation are among the commonly employed methods. Each method has its advantages and considerations, and the choice should be based on the specific water system, regulatory requirements, and desired water quality. It is essential to validate the chosen method and establish a comprehensive monitoring program to ensure ongoing control and compliance with regulatory standards. By implementing proper sanitization methods, pharmaceutical manufacturers can safeguard the integrity of their products and contribute to patient safety.

Leave a Reply

Don`t copy text!
%d bloggers like this: