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OSHA Requirements for Glutaraldehyde

When to Use
Limit use of high level disinfectants to instances where the heat or pressure of an autoclave would damage the device to be disinfected. Always sterilize (autoclave) any instrument or device that enters a patient's vascular system or other normally sterile areas of the body.

Exposure Limits
Prolonged exposure to glutaraldehyde is dangerous, so protect employees from its vapors which irritate eyes, skin, and the respiratory system. Although OSHA's permissible exposure limit of 0.2 parts per million of glutaraldehyde was invalidated by court order in 1992, it remains in effect in some states. In any case, a few covered soaking solutions in a medical practice is surely below that limit. If you use glutaraldehyde extensively, employee exposure may exceed these limits. At that point, employees would be required to wear monitors and sophisticated ventilation systems may be necessary.

Glutaraldehyde Disinfecting Policies

  1. Rinse and clean instruments to be disinfected prior to soaking. Many bacteria and viruses (including the HIV virus) can survive in device lubricants, so be sure they are removed before disinfecting.
  2. Those who rinse instruments must protect themselves from splashes and sprays by wearing gowns, gloves, and face protection.
  3. Have a Material Safety Data Sheet on file and be sure all employees who use glutaraldehyde have read it.
  4. Place a warning label on the soaking container containing the name of the chemical (glutaraldehyde) and the hazard warning. Call the toll free number in the product instructions to obtain a free label.
  5. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to a "T."
  6. Use in a well-ventilated area or, if this is not possible, specify that the soaking container is to be covered at all times except when workers are inserting or removing objects from the solution.
  7. Periodically test the solution for potency and discard on or before the expiration date.

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