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SENSOR Occup Lung Dis Bull 2001 Dec; :1-2
This issue of the Bulletin is dedicated to updating you about glutaraldehyde exposure. I was prompted to write this article after NIOSH released a publication on the use of glutaraldehyde in hospitals in June 2001. Given the size of the health care industry in Massachusetts, glutaraldehyde exposure is of particular concern. Case #1- A 54-year-old technician worked in a chronic long-term care facility for over 14 years before developing symptoms of asthma at work. Her duties included sterilizing endoscopy and surgical equipment, which she did in an unventilated unit using a solution containing glutaraldehyde. The solution was stored in open 5-gallon buckets, and the worker did not use a respirator. Case #2 - After 13 years in other positions at the same hospital, a 43- year-old woman developed symptoms of asthma. This change occurred immediately upon being transferred to a new job as an X-ray mammographer. Glutaraldehyde is one of the processing chemicals used to develop X-ray film. Glutaraldehyde has been found to be a strong irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Contact with glutaraldehyde-containing solutions can cause skin sensitization, leading to allergic contact dermatitis. Headaches, nausea, epistaxis, and mucous membrane irritation have also been documented. Vapor inhalation may cause work-related asthma. Glutaraldehyde can also aggravate preexisting asthma. Sensitized individuals may have asthmatic responses after exposure to minute quantities well below the legal exposure limits.
Occupational-diseases; Occupational-health; Lung-disease; Work-environment; Workers; Occupational-exposure; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Bronchial-asthma; Employee-exposure; Occupational-respiratory-disease; Health-care; Disease-prevention; Airway-resistance; Surveillance-programs; Medical-monitoring; Lung-irritants; Health-care-facilities; Aldehydes; X-ray-technicians; Chemical-processing; Case-studies; Employee-exposure; Disinfectants; Medical-equipment; Chemical-cleaning; Exposure-limits
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
SENSOR Occupational Lung Disease Bulletin
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division