Tuesday, March 02, 2004

CalOSHA Considers Lowering Glutaraldehyde Exposure Limit

SEIU Conducting A Survey

The CalOSHA Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) is considering reducing the permissible exposure limit for glutaraldehyde, also known as Cidex, from .2 parts per million (ppm) to .015 ppm. Glutaraldehyde is a widely used hospital disinfectant.

According to NIOSH, exposure to glutaraldehyde can cause throat and lung irritation, asthma, asthma-like symptoms, nose irritation, nosebleeds, burning eyes and conjunctivitis, rash—contact and/or allergic dermatitis, headaches and nausea.

Glutaraldehyde is a sensitizer. This means some workers will become very sensitive to glutaraldehyde and have strong reactions if they are exposed to even small amounts. Workers may get sudden asthma attacks with difficult breathing, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. Prolonged exposure can cause a skin allergy and chronic eczema, and afterwards, exposure to small amounts produces severe itching and skin rashes.

In preparation for the CalOSHA hearings on lowering the standard, SEIU is conducting a web survey. If you use glutaraldehyde at work, please click here and fill out the survey.

More information on glutaraldehyde can be found here.