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Request for information about the Health Risks to Workers Associated with Occupational Exposures to Peracetic Acid

March 2017
NIOSH Docket Number 295, CDC-2017-0015

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intends to evaluate the scientific data on peracetic acid (CAS#79-21-0) and develop appropriate communication products that convey the potential health risks, recommended measures for safe handling, and establish exposure recommendations including a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) and an immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) value. NIOSH currently does not have a REL or IDLH value for peracetic acid. There is no OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for peracetic acid.

Peracetic acid is a peroxide-based molecule used extensively as an antimicrobial agent in many commercial applications. It is routinely used as a sterilant during the cleaning of endoscopes and other medical devices, as a disinfectant in food processing, as a bleaching agent, and in the synthesis of other chemicals. Technical and commercial peracetic acid products contain peracetic acid, acetic acid, and hydrogen peroxide in solution. Concentrations of peracetic acid in these products vary, but do not exceed 40%. Acute exposure to peracetic acid is irritating to the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin. Peracetic acid is a strong sensory irritant considered to be more potent than acetic acid or hydrogen peroxide.

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Reference Documents
  • Federal Register Notice: Federal Register Notice 6-1-17 Comment period extended
  • Federal Register Notice: Federal Register Notice [PDF – 200K]
  • Background Information: Research efforts are needed to characterize the acute and chronic health effects of occupational exposures to peracetic acid. These efforts include: 1) epidemiological and field studies designed to assess workplace exposures to peracetic acid, 2) in vivo and in vitro studies designed to characterize the acute, sub-chronic, and chronic effects of peracetic acid, 3) quantitative risk assessment(s) intended to characterize the increased risks associated with workplace exposures to peracetic acid, 4) evaluation of workplace controls, including engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment, 5) development of analytical methods to accurately collect and analyze air samples of peracetic acid under various conditions (e.g., task-based monitoring, full-shift monitoring, real-time monitoring).