Glutaraldehyde is widely used as a disinfectant for a variety of heat-sensitive instruments, such as endoscopes, bronchoscopes, and dialysis equipment. Health care employees may be exposed to glutaraldehyde in its uses as a hardener in x-ray development and as a tissue fixative in histology and pathology labs. Glutaraldehyde is most often used as a dilute in solutions ranging from 0.1% to 50% glutaraldehyde– water mixture. Trade names for glutaraldehyde-containing formulations include Sporicidin, Cidex, Hospex, Metricide, Omnicide, Rapicide, Sonacide and Wavicide.
Health effects of glutaraldehyde.
Since its introduction as a disinfectant, glutaraldehyde has been linked with many negative health effects. Health effects can be mild to severe, including asthma, breathing difficulties, skin rashes, and respiratory irritation. Exposure to glutaraldehyde is the leading cause of occupational asthma among healthcare workers. The repercussions from exposure can happen very quickly or may take several months or years. Short term exposure to glutaraldehyde may cause watering eyes, rashes and difficult breathing. Healthcare workers involved in endoscopy, x-ray procedures, maintenance and cleaning are at a higher risk for exposure to glutaraldehyde.
Testing and prevention for glutaraldehyde.
Several air sampling methods are available for monitoring glutaraldehyde exposures. These methods include active and passive sampling techniques as well as the use of a direct reading instrument. Active air sampling uses battery-powered personal sampling pumps and treated filters or sorbent tubes for sample collection. Passive sampling uses small, lightweight badge assemblies that utilize natural air movement rather than pumps for sample collection. After sampling, the filters or sorbent tubes and passive monitors should be sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis.
Responsibilities of the Employer.
An employer must determine whether employees are being exposed to concentrations in excess of the permissible exposure limit (PEL). The first step for employee exposure monitoring is to sample the employees during a typical workday. If employees have been exposed to levels near the PEL, appropriate measures must be taken to reduce the levels of glutaraldehyde in the workplace. The employer should use sampling data, including area monitoring to determine if changes in work processes are the cause of over exposure. Developing a good employee exposure monitoring program is an excellent way to be sure that employers are staying compliant and keeping their employees safe.
How can AMI Environmental protect employees and the reputation of business?
At AMI Environmental, our main goal is to assist businesses and create a safe working environment, while adhering to government regulations. With decades of experience, our Industrial Hygiene Professionals purpose is to help our clients not only protect your workers but also manage risk. Allowing you to then enjoy the peace of mind knowing your employees will be protected from harm. AMI will work to establish and maintain a safe work environment, including surveying your facility for risks; provide testing within your facility; maintain testing protocol; and assist in the recording process. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jamie Hilger at firstname.lastname@example.org.