Prions are highly resistant to disinfectants, heat, ultraviolet radiation, ionizing radiation and formalin. However, prions can be deactivated by heat, by chemicals and by a combination of heat, chemicals, pressure and time.
Prions can be destroyed through incineration providing the incinerator can maintain a temperature of 900 F for four hours. In an autoclave, prions can be deactivated by using a temperature of 270 F at 21 psi for 90 minutes. If the infectious material is in a solution of sodium hydroxide, deactivation will occur after one hour at 250 F and 21 psi.
A commercial disinfectant called Environ LpH also has been shown to be effective at deactivating prions. Prion disinfection occurs with a 1 percent solution of LpH for 10 hours or with a 10 percent LpH solution for one hour.
Carcasses of infected animals can be deactivated into a sterile alkaline solution using an alkaline hydrolysis digester. This consists of an insulated steam-jacketed stainless steel vessel which operates at up to 70 psi and 300 F into which sodium hydroxide and water is added and heated and continuously circulated. This process degrades proteins into salts of free amino acids and the temperature and alkali concentrations deactivate prions by destroying their peptide bonds.15