Effects of Disinfectants in Renal Dialysis Patients
Environmental Health Perspectives
Patients receiving hemodialysis therapy risk exposure to 'both disinfectants and sterilants. Dialysis equipment is disinfected periodically with strong solutions of hypochlorite or formaldehyde. More recently, reuse of dialyzers has introduced the use of additional sterilants, such as hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid. The use of these sterilants is recognized by the center staffs and the home patient as a potential risk, and residue tests are carried out for the presence of these sterilants
... of these sterilants at the ppm level. Gross hemolysis resulting from accidental hypochlorite infusion has led to cardiac arrest, probably as a result of hyperkalemia. Formaldehyde is commonly used in 4% solutions to sterilize the fluid paths of dialysis controllers and to sterilize dialyzers before reuse. It can react with red cell antigenic surfaces leading to the formation of anti-N antibodies. Such reactions probably do not occur with hypochlorite or chloramines. The major exposure risk is the low concentration of disinfectant found in municipal water used to prepare 450 L dialysate weekly. With thrice-weekly treatment schedules, the quality requirements for water used to make this solution must be met rigorously. Standards for water used in the preparation of dialysate have recently been proposed but not all patients are treated with dialysate meeting such standards. The introduction of sterilants via tap water is insidious and has led to more pervasive consequences. Both chlorine and chloramines, at concentrations found in potable water, are strong oxidants that cause extensive protein denaturation and hemolysis. Oxidation of the Fe2" in hemoglobin to Fe3" forms methemoglobin, which is incapable of carrying either 02 or CO2. Chloramine can form not only methemoglobin, but can also denature proteins within the red cell, thus forming aggregates (Heinz bodies). Chloramines also inhibit hexose monophosphate shunt activity, a mechanism that makes the red cell even more susceptible to oxidant damage. These risks can only be minimized through close cooperation between the clinical staffs and the water carrier's technical personnel.