The antimicrobial properties of aqueous solutions of peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide have been compared. Peracetic acid exhibited excellent antimicrobial properties, especially under acidic conditions. Reductions by a factor of 10(6) in the numbers of vegetative bacteria are obtained within 1 min at 25 degrees C using a solution containing 1.3 mmol/l of peracetic acid. Rapid activity against bacterial spores and yeasts also occurs. Hydrogen peroxide is more effective as a sporicide than as a bactericide, with sporicidal action being obtained using a solution containing 0.88 mol/l. Bactericidal action is poor but hydrogen peroxide was bacteriostatic at concentrations above 0.15 mmol/l.
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