Notes From the field: What’s that smell; why are my eyes burning?

By: May 28th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

The culprit was an open container of the high level disinfectant glutaraldehyde. The minute I stepped into the lab of a physician’s practice, I could smell the glutaraldehyde solution. There was a large basin sitting in the sink piled high with metal instruments.

This mixture should ALWAYS be kept in a tightly closed bin/container.

Employee exposure leads to a variety of negative health effects including asthma, breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation, and skin rashes.

Gloves made of nitrile or butyl rubber should be worn when working with any high level disinfectant. It is also recommended that goggles be worn when handling glutaraldehyde and that employees wash their hands after handling this mixture.

Also, there should be a warning label that states the name of the chemical on the soaking container.

According to OSHA’s Best Practices for the Safe Use of Glutaraldehyde in Health Care, employers must create a suitable plan for handling glutaraldehyde spills.

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